undercover by lazyweekendmornings
Chapter 1: i.
Chapter 2: ii.
Chapter 3: iii.
Chapter 4: iv.
Chapter 5: v.
Chapter 6: vi.
Chapter 7: vii.
Chapter 8: viii.
Chapter 9: ix.
Chapter 10: x.
It all starts with a handshake.
Well, to be more accurate, it starts as a lot of things start: with Harry and Ginny in bed, curled up beneath what feels like fifty blankets. It’s December, and it’s already beastly cold in London. Ginny’s grateful that she doesn’t play for the Harpies anymore; she can’t imagine training in this weather. She’s done it before, so she can imagine it, actually, which is why she’s so grateful she doesn’t have to now. While she’s thinking about it, she’s also grateful that baby Jamie is asleep in the other room. That’s very helpful, too.
“There’s been a lot of attacks recently,” Harry says, apropos of nothing, and completely bursts her bubble of happiness.
It’s nearly midnight, and Harry only got home a couple of hours ago. Ginny’d been looking forward to spending the night catching up on lost time, since he’s been working more than usual this week.
But this, Harry talking about attacks, can never be a good sigh. Especially when he does it in the dead of night. She knows it’s serious, or he wouldn’t he telling her.
“Okay,” she says slowly. “What sort of attacks?”
“We’re not sure,” Harry says. His eyes are closed, but Ginny can just about make out his frown in the dim moonlight. “They’re random attacks. Someone tried to attack Neville in Diagon Alley last week. Seamus came in two weeks ago, said that he was attacked, too.”
“When you say attacked, what do you mean?” Ginny asks.
Harry sighs. Also not a good sign, thinks Ginny. “I mean, Dean Thomas came up to Seamus two weeks ago when he was in Kenmare visiting his mum, and after a conversation, he tried to Stupefy him. And that’s what Luna did to Neville last week.”
“What?” Ginny says. That has her complete attention. She sits up in bed. She wishes she had Ron’s Deluminator to get the lights on, but she makes do with grabbing her wand from the bedside table and getting the lights on that way. “Dean and Luna attacked Seamus and Neville?” she repeats, incredulous. Those don’t sound like random attacks at all, not one bit.
“No,” Harry says, with another sigh.
Ginny doesn’t know if she’s ever been this confused in her life. “What in Merlin’s name are you talking about, Harry?” she demands.
Harry sits up, too, retrieving his glasses and putting them on. “At the time of the attacks, both Dean and Luna are verified to be elsewhere. Dean was in London with his parents, and Luna was in Bulgaria with Rolf. Both have alibis to back it up, and we’ve double- and triple-checked those. And Seamus and Neville, both picked up that they were imposters, which is how they fended off the attack.”
Ginny takes a minute to think about it. “You’re sure they were both imposters?”
Harry nods. “Both of them, yes. We’re quite sure. And I think that it could be the same person who posed as the both of them. Or two different people working together. I’m not sure, but the two attacks are connected. Both happened outdoors, within the vicinity of other wizards, both were attempts to Stun and not kill or attack, and both happened within a week of each other. But we don’t have too many leads. Except that it’s almost definitely Polyjuice Potion. But that leaves the question of how they got Dean and Luna’s hair or nails or whatever, because we’ve interviewed both of them and neither noticed any unusual activity around them…”
From the other room, Jamie starts to cry, interrupting Harry’s rambling train of thought. Harry gets up before Ginny can, and returns with Jamie in a few moments. He sits back down in bed, holding a now quiet and half-asleep Jamie in his arms.
“They’re both war heroes, though. I mean, we’re all used to idiots trying to attack us,” Ginny says.
“This feels different, though,” Harry says. “Both were connected. And we’ve never had someone try to pose as other people before. I can’t figure out why they’d do that, whoever it is. Whoever they are. I don’t know.”
He sounds completely exhausted, so Ginny places her hand on his chest and gently pushes him back down onto the bed. “They’re both okay, right? Seamus and Neville?” she asks.
Harry nods. “They are, yeah.”
“Then let’s get some sleep. The mystery will be there in the morning, ready to solve,” Ginny says.
Harry’s eyes are already drooping. “‘Kay,” he says. Jamie’s already asleep on Harry’s chest, and Harry rests his hand on Jamie’s back, holding him close even as he goes to sleep himself.
Ginny doesn’t sleep for ages, though. When she finally sleeps, she dreams of imposters and surprise attacks, and her sleep is disturbed through the night.
The next morning, Harry leaves for work before she wakes up. It’s fine. It is. She isn’t worried. She wakes up and he’s gone, with a note left on the bedside table saying Had to go to work but I changed Jamie and let you sleep in so you’re welcome. Love you — H and it’s fine. Everything’s fine.
“Stop looking at me like that, Jamie,” she tells James, once she gets the both of them downstairs. He’s looking at her very judgementally in his highchair, holding his stuffed owl like it’s a precious commodity.
“Mama no bababa,” he responds, gesturing very emphatically with his owl.
She supposes he has a point. “Alright, fine, Jim-Jam. Maybe I’m a little worried.”
“Baba,” says James.
“It’s your stupid dad’s fault. Got me all worried about imposter attacks and then left,” Ginny grumbles.
Jamie perks up at that. “Dada!” he agrees emphatically, and then looks around, as if expecting to see Harry pop up. In his defence, Harry does spend a lot of time Apparating and Disapparating in front of James to make him laugh.
“No, you’re right,” Ginny says. She has an article to send in to the Prophet by today evening, and she should be getting to work, but all she can do is think about Harry. She suddenly wants to see him. “Hey, Jim-Jam. We should go see Dada, don’t you think?”
“Dada,” says James. He thinks about it, and then adds, “Peas,” and claps his tiny hands together, and that’s that.
“Exactly,” Ginny says. “Let’s go see Dada.” She bundles him up in his tiny jumper — an early Christmas present from Mum — and then they’re both off.
It’s a pleasant enough walk to the visitor’s entrance to the Ministry, enough that Ginny lets herself get cheered up by it. Jamie amuses himself by pointing and giggling at passers-by from his stroller, keeping up a running, babbling commentary for Ginny’s benefit. She hums in response, and lifts him up once they’re at the Ministry. She taps the stroller with her wand to Vanish it back home; she’s learnt the hard way that navigating the Ministry with a stroller only draws attention to herself.
Ron’s the only one who’s in the office when she gets there. He’s bent over his desk, frowning at a pile of paperwork, but he looks up when they come in and grin.
“Hey!” he says, and lifts Jamie up instantly, kissing the top of his head. “It’s my favourite nephew!”
“And your sister, too. You could greet me, you prat,” Ginny says.
“I was going to,” Ron protests.
Jamie brings a fist up and tugs a handful of Ron’s hair. Ginny approves. “Where’s Harry?” she asks.
“He went to Diagon Alley with Neville. I was meant to go with him, but Robards said that if I don’t finish last month’s case files by tonight then I lose my overtime privileges. Git,” Ron says.
Great. All of that, and he isn’t even in. Ginny’s wondering whether it’s worth going to Diagon Alley to interrupt Harry’s investigation into Merlin knows what — something to do with last week’s attack, probably — when the fireplace in the office turns green and Harry steps out of it.
The private fireplace, which is only connected to the members of the Auror department’s homes. Which isn’t connected to Diagon Alley. Harry could have Apparated home and then Flooed to work, but that doesn’t make sense. He would’ve just Apparated home and assumed Ginny and Jamie are out for a while. Or would’ve just Apparated to work. It makes no sense. Absolutely none.
Ginny and Ron exchange a look, and Ginny leans forward to take Jamie back from Ron. She knows what he’s thinking; they’re on the same page here.
“Hi, mate,” Harry says.
“Hello, love,” Ginny says. She’s never greeted Harry like that once, not in several years of dating him and being married to him.
“Oh, hi, darling,” Harry says. “And you’ve brought James, too! Lovely.”
And then: the handshake.
So Harry and Ron have this handshake. Hermione and Ginny like to exchange eye rolls whenever they witness it, eye rolls tinged with fondness more often than not. It started when they became official Auror partners. It consists of what feels like several minutes of bumping fists, tapping hands, and other hand movements that Ginny tunes out of.
She pays close attention to it today, though. She holds James close to her chest with one arm, but the other one is inching towards the back pocket of her jeans, to her wand.
Ron finishes the handshake with a flourish, and then grabs Harry’s wrist. In one fluid motion, he’s got the Harry’s hands pinned behind his back, and Ginny has her wand pointed at him. “Don’t move,” she says.
Jamie sniffles in Ginny’s arms, and she feels his little arms wrap around her neck and hold on tightly to her.
And then there’s a sudden pop and the real Harry Apparates into the office. Jamie looks from not-Harry, who’s struggling in Ron’s grip, and then at Harry. “Dada!” he says.
Harry only takes a second to realise what’s happening, and then he takes a step towards Ginny. His jaw is clenched, and he gets his wand out, too, standing next to her and pointing his wand at the imposter. Ginny doesn’t move to greet him, keeps her wand pointed at Not-Harry.
“I knew it,” Ron says, looking triumphantly at the real Harry. “I knew this wanker wasn’t you!”
“What the fuck!” the man with Ginny’s husband’s face says. “I did the handshake and everything!”
Ginny and Ron snort at the exact same time. “I think it’d take more than a handshake to fool me about my best friend, mate,” Ron snorts. “And now you’re in Auror custody, so good luck with whatever your plan was.”
“You’re not getting it out of me!” the man says.
“Stupefy,” Harry says, and the man goes limp. Ron lets go of him. Harry looks a bit pale, but all he says is, “Ron, do you think you could transfer him into holding? We’ll wait, it’ll be easier to interrogate him once the Polyjuice wears off,” he says.
“Course, yeah. I’ll let Robards and Kingsley know, too,” Ron says. “Anyone else?”
“Hermione,” Harry says. “But… maybe not anyone else.”
“No. Wouldn’t want word to get around,” Ron agrees.
Ginny only lowers her wand once Ron’s Apparated to the holding cell, but her hands won’t stop shaking.
“Dada!” Jamie says again, more insistently this time.
Harry puts his wand away and lifts Jamie up above his head, pressing a kiss to his stomach and making him giggle. “How did you know?” he asks Ginny.
Ginny leans back against Ron’s desk, suddenly exhausted. The adrenaline is leaving her, leaving only fatigue in its place. “He called me love. And called Jamie James. And I said, ‘hi, darling’, and he didn’t say anything. Those were the biggest red flags, really. But me and Ron suspected as soon as he Flooed in.”
Harry frowns. “He Flooed in?”
“Yeah,” Ginny says. She can see Harry add up the pieces in his head, and his frown increases, but all he does is sit down at Ron’s desk and hold Jamie in his lap.
“You know what Kingsley’ll say, right?” he says, after a few minutes of silence.
Ginny shakes her head. She doesn’t think she’s ever known less in her life. “Until two minutes ago, I had no idea I’d have to point a wand at someone who looked just like you,” she points out.
“Fair point,” Harry agrees.
“What will Kingsley say?”
“He’ll say that an imposter got access to our home, and access to the Auror office,” Harry says.
Both of those things are true, Ginny thinks.
“If you and Ron hadn’t been in, if it had been one of the other Aurors, then they might have been fooled. If it had been anyone who didn’t know me so well. They even learned my fu–my handshake, for Merlin’s sake,” Harry says.
Ginny has to hold back a smile. Both of them have received several lectures from Mum about swearing in front of Jamie, but it’s a hard lesson to learn.
Harry, on the other hand, doesn’t look like he’s smiling at all. “He could’ve gotten to Jamie, Gin. You all could’ve been in real danger.”
“I know,” Ginny says softly. It’s kind of terrifying to think about, really. “So what do we do?” she asks. She’s not going to dwell on the sort of otherworldly horror and dread that fills her heart at the thought of her baby, of tiny Jamie, being in any sort of danger. It’s easier like this, to focus on something she can control.
“I don’t know,” Harry says quietly. He leans in, rests his head against Ginny’s hip, and holds Jamie close.
Ginny loses track of how long they both stay like that. Her heartbeat’s only now starting to return to normal, but it’s still hard or stay calm and rational to think past the waves of panic and stress that keep washing over her.
“I just heard,” says the deep and reassuring voice of Kingsley Shacklebolt.
Ginny jumps. Jamie dimples up at Kingsley, perfectly angelic and settled now that he’s in Harry’s lap.
“Hi, Kingsley,” Harry says, sounding just as exhausted as Ginny feels.
“Hi, Minister,” Ginny echoes.
“Min,” Jamie puts in, and then says, “Mamama.”
Kingsley gives Jamie a smile — it’s impossible not to, in Ginny’s opinion — but then focuses his serious gaze back on Harry and Ginny. “Ron’s told me about the situation. It seems as if these attacks are connected to the earlier ones. You were right in your suspicions,” he tells Harry. “Robards and Ron are going to interrogate him in an hour, once the Polyjuice wears off.”
“I want to interrogate him, too,” Harry says immediately.
Kingsley shakes his head. “Whoever this imposter is, he’s gained access to your house. If he knew the details of your handshake with Ron, he must have been following you for a while.”
“It is ridiculously complicated to learn,” Ginny agrees. She’d given up after one attempt.
“I believe…” Kingsley hesitates. Never a good sign. “From the information at hand, I believe you both, and James, are in danger. Immediate danger, potentially. Especially since both your house and place of work has been compromised.”
Ginny should be used to this. She’s been in immediate danger more times than she can count. A shiver runs down her spine despite this. “What do we do, Kingsley?” she asks, and her voice comes out more pleading than she intends.
“I believe the best course of action would be to go undercover. For as long as it takes for us to figure out how this breach of security was possible and who is behind it. I’ve already spoken to Robards. We’ll organise a cottage, in a Muggle village. No one will know its whereabouts except me and a Secret Keeper of your choosing. You’re familiar with the Fidelius Charm?”
“It’d be weird if I wasn’t,” Harry says. “What with my parents, and Grimmauld Place, and, you know, everything.”
“You don’t think this is an overreaction?” Harry asks. “We’ve been in more dangerous situations.”
“We’ve never had a criminal successfully gain access to your home and private Floo before,” Kingsley says quietly. “And I’ve seen the security measures in your home. It isn’t easy to infiltrate.”
Ginny thinks of Grimmauld Place, of the years of protection that the Order’s put on it, in addition to all of the spells she and Harry have added themselves. Kingsley’s right; it isn’t easy to infiltrate. Whoever did this knows what they’re doing, that’s for sure.
Harry seems to agree with her, because he says, “Yes, I suppose you have a point.”
“It won’t be for long, hopefully,” Kingsley says. “But… until we get to the bottom of this, we can’t be too careful.”
“And I won’t be able to come to work or work on this case?” Harry asks.
“You can work remotely. We’ll send you the details as we learn them,” Kingsley says.
“Wait. I’m confused. What does this mean?” Ginny asks.
Harry looks at Kingsley, and then turns to Ginny and sighs. “We have to go into hiding. It means… it looks like we’re going undercover, Gin.”
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Author's Notes: as always, let me know what you think! hope you like it :)
“I’m not going to tell anyone,” Ron says. “I promise.”
“Well, yes, or you’d be a shit Secret Keeper, Ron,” Ginny says. “You can tell Hermione, though.”
“And Molly,” Harry puts in.
“I’ll tell Hermione, yeah. And Mum. No one else, though,” Ron says, shaking his head. “Kingsley says you’re both meant to stay completely undercover. Can’t have too many people knowing.”
“Hermione and Mum don’t count, Ron. Besides, this won’t be for too long, right?” Ginny says.
Harry and Ron exchange a look. Harry’s grateful when Ron leans forward and unlocks the door instead of answering Ginny. He follows Ginny and Ron inside, pushing Jamie’s pram. They’re in a small living room, with a sofa that looks about fifty years older than he is, and a faded carpet. Ginny points her wand at the fireplace, and a fire flares up, making everything seem slightly homier.
They’re staying in a small town in Scotland, in a cottage near the coast. Ginny hasn’t seen this town before. Harry has; he and Ron did the world’s most boring stakeout here last year. It had yielded no results and had just been him and Ron sitting down outside one of the neighbouring houses, with the Disillusionment Charm cast on them, sharing a few packets of crisps. It had felt almost like being seventeen and on the run from Voldemort in a tent in the woods, except that this had yielded far fewer results.
He’s been to the town, but he hasn’t seen this house before or gotten insight into the details of the security beyond the Fidelius Charm. It’s been very hush-hush. It’s about half an hour away from Hogsmeade, but they’re under strict instructions not to make contact with any wizards, just in case. Muggles only. For all intents and purposes, they need to live like Muggles for the next few days. Or weeks. For all Harry knows, it could take months, but he hasn’t told Ginny that. She hasn’t said anything, but she’s worried, he can tell. He can’t blame her. He always knew his job was dangerous, but the depth of it is only sinking in now. He thinks of an imposter at the Ministry, in his house, with the potential to hurt Jamie, and he wants to break something. Or throw something. He hasn’t decided yet, but he knows the thought fills him with rage.
“We’re positioning a few trainees by your house all the time,” Ron says, stepping into the cottage. “None of them will be able to come in, or even really even see what they’re guarding.”
“So they’ll be completely useless and not pay attention to any potential threats, then?” Harry says, closing the door firmly behind him.
“Yeah, basically,” Ron says. He grins, and Harry knows they’re both thinking of the numerous stake outs they’ve had to do over the last couple of years. He leans in and picks James up. “Hermione’ll come over this evening, and she’ll give you both a proper security update.”
“I’m sure it’ll be very detailed,” Ginny says dryly.
“Oh, yeah. You know her. She’ll have all the details,” Ron says, looking proud.
Ginny meets Harry’s eyes; they exchange a smile. Harry turns to look at the door, and gets his wand out. “Salvio hexia,” he murmurs. “Protego totalum.”
“I wouldn’t bother with the Muggle-Repellant one, mate,” Ron says, bouncing Jamie in his arms and making him giggle. “The whole point is to live like Muggles. Can’t live like Muggles if you’re repelling them. Besides, with the Fidelius, you don’t really need any extra protection.”
“Suppose you’re right,” Harry says, but he adds, “Muffliato.” A Moody-like voice in his head is warning him to be constantly vigilant, to protect his family.
“Does living like Muggles mean no magic at all?” Ginny wonders, sitting down on the sofa. Harry tries not to look at the cloud of dust that rises from the sofa as she sits down, but he knows that he didn’t imagine it, judging by Jamie’s little sneeze.
“I think it just means don’t draw attention to yourself,” Ron says. “Stay in the house and garden as much as possible, don’t do anything to make the neighbours notice you, things like that. There’s no way they can Trace magic on you.”
“Not unless…” Harry says, but he doesn’t finish the thought.
“Not unless what?” Ginny and Ron say, at nearly the same time.
Harry shakes his head. “No, nothing. Ron, want a cup of tea before you go back?”
“I’m not going back to work. Taken the rest of the day off,” Ron says, and leans down, blowing a raspberry on Jamie’s tummy and making him shriek with delight. “I’m gonna show Jamie the garden,” he decides and makes his way to the handkerchief-sized garden in the back.
Harry knows they’re safe in the house. He knows it. But he keeps an eye out anyway, and watches Ron and Jamie through the garden door.
“Can I ask you something?” he asks Ginny, sitting down next to her.
“Yeah, go on then,” Ginny says.
“If I hadn’t come in. If Ron hadn’t been there to arrest the imposter. Would he have attacked you and Jamie, do you think?”
To her credit, Ginny doesn’t flinch. Harry forgets, sometimes, that she’s been through just as many dangerous situations as him, if not more. Takes more than a foiled attack attempt to phase her. “Of course,” she says. “That had to be the plan. Didn’t he admit to it, when he was questioned?”
Harry hesitates. “Well… he wasn’t questioned.”
“What?” Ginny says.
“He escaped,” Harry says dully.
Ginny’s eyes go wide. “No wonder you’re so paranoid now, then. How the hell did he manage to do that?” she demands.
Harry doesn’t answer that. Truth be told, he has no idea.
“What Muggle sport do you think is the closest to Quidditch?” Ginny asks later that evening. They’re both sitting at the little table in the kitchen, drinking a cup of tea and eating a half-hearted dinner of toast and jam.
“Hmm?” Harry asks. “I don’t know.”
“Dean always talked about football,” Ginny presses on.
Harry thinks about it. “That’s more with your feet than anything else, though, isn’t it?” It’s been years, but a small part of him, a long-dormant monster in his chest hates the idea of thinking about Ginny with Dean.
“I don’t know. Might be worth a try,” Ginny says.
Before either of them can say anything else, there’s a tentative knock at the door. They’re both on their feet instantly, wands drawn and toast completely forgotten.
“It’s probably Hermione,” Ginny says, but neither of them moves.
It has to be someone who Ron told the address to. The Fidelius Charm would prevent anyone else from so much as knowing where they stay. Hermione makes the most sense.
“Yeah,” Harry says, and then he says, “I’m going to go answer the door.”
They both look at each other for a moment, and then Ginny says casually, “I’ll go and get Jamie, shall I?”
“I think you should, yeah,” Harry says. He’s being paranoid — they both are — but it’s for the best.
Harry opens the door a second later to find Hermione, but he doesn’t loosen his grip on his wand.
Hermione looks at him, and then sighs and says, “I destroyed the Hufflepuff cup Horcrux. Ron destroyed the locket, after diving into a freezing lake. You’re the seventh Horcrux, and–”
Harry lowers his wand before she can complete her sentence. “Sorry,” he says sheepishly. “Had to check, didn’t I?”
“It never hurts,” Hermione says. “I’m just going to check whether I was followed here. Homenum Revelio!” When nothing happens, she steps in.
“Hi, Hermione,” Ginny calls out from the stairs.
Hermione’s eyes soften when she sees Jamie in Ginny’s arms, and she waves at the both of them. “Oh, he’s gotten so big, hasn’t he?” she says.
“Hermione, you saw him two weeks ago,” Ginny says, amused.
“Yes, but still. Hello, James,” Hermione coos. She’s the only one who calls him that and not Jamie.
“What’s wrong, Harry?” Ginny asks.
Harry hasn’t closed the door yet, and he’s frowning at the distance. He could’ve sworn he heard something; a tiny pop sound accompanied by a glimmer in the distance. Something like someone Apparating under the Disillusionment charm. A trick of the light, maybe.
“Nothing,” he says, turning his back to the door and closing it firmly behind him. “Nothing at all.”
“It’s just hard to think about how impractical a baby is when I get to see his little face,” Hermione says. She’s finished telling Harry and Ginny the entire details of all the security measures, and they’ve moved on to baby talk. Well. She’s moved on. Harry and Ginny haven’t been saying much during it. Ginny looks half asleep, if anything.
“Why’s it impractical?” Harry asks, leaning over to pick Jamie up from Ginny’s lap.
Delighted, Jamie says, “Dada!” and cuddles into him, burying his face in his neck.
“Well, look at you two,” Hermione says. “You’re more worried about this whole situation because the imposter saw Jamie, aren’t you? And now if it’s more than one person, if it’s a group, they’ll all know Jamie’s a vulnerability for you, and they’ll probably target him!”
Harry looks at Ginny, who looks wide awake now. She’s also gone a bit pale. He can’t blame her. Neither of them has forgotten the danger that the attack poses for them, but the sudden reminder in the night, when they’ve both gotten relatively comfortable, isn’t exactly pleasant.
“Cheers. Thanks for that, Hermione,” he says, and holds Jamie a bit tighter. Jamie squirms in Harry’s arms and then settles back down. His breathing’s starting to slow down, and Harry has no doubt he’ll be asleep within a minute.
Hermione’s cheeks go pink. “No, that’s not what I meant,” she says.
“Yes, it is,” Ginny says quietly, and gets to her feet. “I’m going to go get a cup of tea, I think.” She doesn’t ask Harry or Hermione if they want some, and goes to the kitchen, closing the door firmly behind her.
“Oh, I messed that up, didn’t I?” Hermione says.
“A little bit, yeah,” Harry agrees.
“I didn’t mean…” Hermione looks miserable. “I didn’t mean that.”
“You weren’t wrong,” Harry says. He looks down at Jamie’s cheek. He thinks about breaking it off with Ginny at the age of sixteen, how he was so sure that Voldemort would target her to get to him. He’d been so scared of something happening to her and now, staring at the sleeping face of his one-year old son, he feels that same fear, multiplied by maybe a thousand. He thinks about his parents, on the run from Voldemort when he was Jamie’s age. It’s different. He knows it is, but… it’s hard to remember that sometimes.
“I was just… thinking. About things,” Hermione says.
Harry recognises Hermione’s tone. He looks up at her and frowns. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Hermione says, and then sighs. “Well, alright. I’ll tell you, but you can’t tell anyone. Okay?”
“You can tell Ginny. And I’m telling Ron tonight. But no one else,” Hermione adds.
“Okay,” Harry says. “What is it?”
“Well, it’s just that… well. I only found out today. This afternoon, actually. Ron was over here, at your house — I suppose it is your house now, isn’t it? Anyway, he was here, and I’ve been feeling sick for the last few days, so I thought I’d go to a Healer. And they gave me a few potions and checked me over, and. Well. I’m pregnant.” Hermione says this all at once, and doesn’t seem to take a breath until she finishes.
Harry’s eyes go wide. “Oh my–Hermione. That’s incredible!” he says. He feels oddly tearful. His best friends, having a baby. He’s been worried and a little upset all day, and this lifts his spirits right up.
“Thank you,” Hermione says, and then promptly bursts into tears.
Jamie starts awake in Harry’s arms, and Ginny comes out of the kitchen, holding a cup of tea and looking significantly better. “What did you do?” she asks Harry.
Harry’s very confused about why Hermione’s crying. “I have no idea,” he says blankly. When Ginny told him about James, there had been no crying at all. Just shock, and celebration. Lots of celebration.
“I’m–I’m pregnant,” Hermione tells Ginny through sobs. Harry pats her back awkwardly, adjusting Jamie so he’s holding him with one arm.
“Oh,” says Ginny. “Oh. Are you not sure if you’re ready?” she asks tentatively.
Harry thinks this makes sense. He hadn’t even thought of that.
Ginny hands her her own cup of tea, and Hermione takes a sip before she calms down enough to answer. “I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m ready. Isn’t that awful?” she says in a small voice.
“Of course it’s not awful,” Harry says, continuing to pat her back. He doesn’t know if it helps, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting, so he keeps on doing it. He wishes Ron were here. Ron always knows what to do when Hermione’s like this. When it comes to anyone other than Ginny and Jamie, he never knows how to deal with tears.
“It’s normal,” Ginny assures Hermione.
“Really?” Hermione asks.
“Of course. When I first got pregnant with Jamie, I went to my mum and had a proper cry before I realised how happy I was. It’s the hormones, I think. They’re out to get you,” Ginny says.
Hermione manages a weak laugh, and then looks at Harry. “What should I do?” she asks him.
Harry’s so flabbergasted by the fact that Hermione’s asking him for advice that he doesn’t think twice before giving his honest opinion. “I think maybe you should talk to Ron about it.”
Hermione considers it, and then sniffles. “You’re right. You’re right. I’m gonna do that,” she decides. “I’ll go now. Th-thank you, both of you.”
“Of course,” Harry says again.
“We’re always here for you,” Ginny promises. “Let us know how it goes, yeah?”
“I’ll walk you out,” Harry offers. He hands Jamie to Ginny, who takes him eagerly, and then picks his wand up before he sees Hermione to the door. “It’ll be fine. Ron’s going to be thrilled,” he tells Hermione.
“I know. He’s wanted kids for ages now,” Hermione says, but she smiles at Harry’s words. She pulls him into a hug and steps out of the front door.
“Travel safe,” Harry says.
“It’s one Apparition, I’ll be fine,” Hermione says. She steps out, just past the boundary of the Fidelius Charm.
Before she can turn on the spot and Apparate, however, a red burst of light hits her in the chest and she falls back, Stunned. Harry hears her head crack as she falls back, and he rushes forward.
“Lumos!” he says, and turns in the direction of the charm, but all he sees a blur of grey as whoever did it Disapparates. “Fuck!” he swears.
“What happened?” Ginny asks from the doorway. She sounds breathless, like she’s just run there.
Harry turns to look at her. She isn’t holding Jamie anymore. Put him to bed, probably, which Harry’s very grateful for. “Will you send word to Ron?” he asks her. “I’m going to take Hermione to St. Mungo’s. Stay here with Jamie, okay? Don’t leave the house.”
“What? What happened?” Ginny demands, more frantically this time.
Harry shakes his head. “What happened is that Kingsley’s right. They got to Hermione, and it could’ve been us, if we stepped out. They were waiting. We’re in danger, Gin.”
Back to index
Author's Notes: sorry for the delay- hope you like it!
Harry waits outside the room while the Healers work on Hermione. He has to, despite what he wants to do, to allow the Healers to do whatever they need to make sure she’s safe, along with the baby. Well, they don’t know about the baby yet, but Harry does. They don’t know that Harry’s here, either; as far as they’re concerned, Harry Potter dropped a Stunned Hermione Granger off downstairs and then Apparated away for some urgent Ministry business. He’s left his Cloak at home, but a Disillusionment Charm works just fine in a pinch. He’s sitting on an uncomfortable hard-backed chair in the waiting room of the fourth floor, waiting for the Healers to emerge or for Ron to get here.
He doesn’t know why he’s as worried as he as. Hermione’s dealt with more Stunnings than any other Healer in the room put together — they all have — but he’s worried about the baby, not to mention the alarming crack he had heard when she fell onto the road that he thinks means a broken bone or two. And that’s not taking into the account that their supposed safe house had clearly been watched. Neither he nor Hermione got a good glance at whoever Stunned her. It could be anyone, absolutely anyone. Anyone could be the perpetrator of the attack. He feels like he’s twelve again, with Hermione Petrified in the hospital wing with him having no idea who’s done any of it. He’s used to action, to taking any sort of action, and he hates the feeling of helplessness that’s overcome him.
He doesn’t have to wait long. Less than fifteen minutes later, Ron comes up in the lift, and starts making his way down the hallway. Harry watches as Ron walks right past him, pauses, and then turns around, fixing his gaze precisely where Harry is.
“You’re not meant to be here,” he says accusingly. “Robards is going to murder me if he knows I let you leave the house.”
Harry shrugs, realises Ron can’t see it, and then gets up. “I’m hidden,” he points out. There’s no one else in the waiting room, but he keeps his voice quiet, anyway.
Ron shrugs. “Fair enough. Do you know where she is?”
“Follow me,” Harry says.
Ron gives the smallest possible nod. Harry grabs the sleeve of Ron’s robe, and begins walking down the hallway. They reach the door of the room Hermione’s in just as two Healers walk out, seeming much calmer than they had when they’d kicked Harry out of the room.
“Well, I’d like to have her here overnight. We can’t be too careful, not with the baby,” one of the Healers, a tall woman holding a clipboard, is telling the other. Both stop when they see Ron, who’s eyes have gone wide enough that they resemble saucers.
“I’m sorry, did you–did you say the baby?” Ron demands.
The other Healer straightens up and clears his throat. “Mr. Weasley,” he says. That’s not a question. “I’m not sure if you’ve been cleared for visitation, and–”
“Ron?” says a small voice from inside, sounding exhausted.
Ron doesn’t hesitate before charging into the room. Harry hears the sound of a sob and then the unmistakable sounds of Ron and Hermione kissing. The two Healers look as if they might go inside to remove Ron, so Harry has no choice but to release the Disillusionment Charm and reveal himself to the two Healers, both of whom jump back with gasps.
“He’s been cleared for visitation. He’s Hermione’s husband and emergency contact. And her attack is an Auror investigation now, so she needs to be interrogated by Aurors to know what she’s seen. Which is where I come in,” he says. He hates to pull rank, but he needs to speak to Ron and Hermione. He won’t trust that Hermione’s alright unless he sees it for himself. “You can always take it up with the Ministry of Magic if there’s a problem.”
A few moments later, he’s allowed into the room, and he closes the door firmly behind himself. Hermione’s lying on the bed, looking pale but otherwise unharmed except for a bandage around her head. She’s firmly holding Ron’s hand.
“Blimey,” Ron says, barely looking up to acknowledge Harry before looking back at Hermione. “A baby.”
“I know,” Hermione whispers. “I only found out this morning, or I would’ve told you, I promise.”
“No, I mean… a baby,” Ron says reverentially.
“It’s good news, isn’t it?” Hermione asks, sounding tentative.
“Good news? Bloody hell, good news was when the Cannons finally won a match last season. This is more than good news. It’s… it’s…” Ron trails off, lost in thought about a suitable adjective.
“Great news?” Harry suggests.
“Great news,” Ron repeats. “Amazing news. The best news ever. We’re going to have a baby. A little baby Granger-Weasley.”
Hermione chuckles, sounding teary, and then looks up at Harry, seeming to only notice him right then. “Thanks for bringing me here,” she says.
“Of course,” Harry says, stepping closer to Hermione. “The–er–the baby’s alright, then?” he asks.
“Yes. It was only a Stunning and a bit of a fall. And a concussion. But the baby’s fine,” Hermione says.
Harry nods. He’s glad. “Did you…” he asks, and then trails off. She’s only just recovered from the Stunning now. It might not be the best time for an interrogation.
Luckily, Hermione seems to know what he’s asking. “I’m sorry, Harry. I didn’t get a proper look at who did it at all. It was just–a flash of grey and then nothing. It all happened so fast, you know? I really wasn’t expecting it…” She sounds genuinely regretful.
Harry shakes his head. “I didn’t see anything, either. You don’t have to apologise,” he tells her.
Ron looks at him then, and seems to only register his presence at that precise second. “You’ve got theories, don’t you? You always do,” he says, sounding almost accusing.
Harry shrugs noncommittally. Walls have ears, after all. He can’t be too careful, not after what’s happened. Constant vigilance and all that.
Hermione looks from Ron to Harry and then says, “How about we come over tomorrow, once I’m discharged? We can talk about it then.”
“That’s a good idea,” Harry says, grateful.
Ron nods. “Alright, then. Tomorrow,” he says and turns back to Hermione. “I still can’t believe it. A baby,” he whispers.
They start to kiss, and Harry slips out while they’re otherwise occupied. Now seems as good a time as any, and he definitely doesn’t have any interest in seeing Ron and Hermione like that. He’s suffered enough for a day.
He gets home to find Ginny in the bedroom upstairs, perched on the bed with Jamie asleep in her lap.
“I couldn’t put him down,” she says quietly, by way of greeting.
Harry sits down next to her, and wraps his arms around her, around the both of them. His family. “You probably want to know what happened, right?” he asks.
Ginny shrugs, rests her head against his shoulder. “Hermione was Stunned,” she says.
“Yeah. As soon as she was out of the house. Just past the boundaries of the Fidelius,” he says.
“Is she alright now?” Ginny asks. “She’s pregnant, too. Merlin. It’s like war time all over again, isn’t it? I haven’t felt this anxious in years,” she admits. Coming from Ginny, it’s a huge admission, and he tightens his arms around her.
“It’s going to be alright. She’s fine now, and we’re going to figure out who did it,” Harry says, hoping against hope that he sounds far more confident than he feels. He wishes he had the right words to reassure her, that he could just wave his wand and disappear all of this away, but he can’t. He feels just as anxious as she does. It was different when it was just his own life at risk. Now it’s Ginny and Jamie, not to mention Hermione. His family.
Ginny surprises him by saying, “We know who did it.”
“We do?” Harry asks.
“The same imposter from the Ministry. Or someone working with them. It can’t be anyone else, can it?” Ginny says.
Harry nods, and then lets go of Ginny to lie back in bed, completely exhausted. All the adrenaline is leaving his body, leaving behind bone-deep weariness. “It can’t be anyone else,” he echoes.
Ginny moves to lie down, too, settling Jamie down in between them. “Let’s get some sleep. We’ll figure this out tomorrow,” she whispers.
“Will we?” Harry asks helplessly.
“Yes. We will. And then we’ll get the son of a bitch,” Ginny promises, leaning in to press a feather-light kiss to his cheek. “We’re safe for now.”
Harry doesn’t know if that’s true. Hermione was attacked here, right here, just past the front door. It was just a Stunning, but it could’ve been more. And with her pregnant, too…
“Harry,” Ginny says, sounding more frustrated than before. “I can basically hear you overthinking.”
“She checked,” Harry says, “for someone following her. As soon as she got home. Homenum Revelio. But someone must’ve followed her, if they got her as soon as she left the house.”
“It could’ve been luck,” Ginny says.
“It could have,” Harry says. Neither of them seems very convinced.
They don’t say anything else, but Harry’s sure that her sleep is just as uneasy as his is that night.
“We need to investigate,” Ron says the next morning as soon as he and Hermione walk in, without so much as a hello. Hermione’s looking a bit tired, but otherwise perfectly fine. It’s like she never got hurt at all, thank heavens.
Both Harry and Ginny are sipping lukewarm tea, and Jamie’s amusing himself with banging a spoon against the kitchen table. Ron sits down and gets out a blank folder from the pocket of his robes. He sets it on the table and taps it with his wand. Instantly, the folder fills up with papers, no longer empty or blank. So he brought the case file home, then. Harry’s grateful for it.
Hermione sits down next to Ginny, and Jamie offers her his spoon and a bright smile immediately.
“The way I see it, there are two possibilities,” Ron continues. “Someone followed Hermione home and hid from her somehow, or someone got there in between her getting here and her leaving.”
“How would they know where to come, though?” Hermione says. “No one knows for sure where you are, except Ron, obviously.”
“They don’t need to know exactly. As long as they know the approximate location, they can watch out for any trace of us,” Ginny says.
Harry lifts up his tea to take a sip, and then pauses. He thinks about Dobby, in the Dursleys’ house when he was twelve, and a letter from Magical Law Enforcement. He thinks of Riddle, able to get away with what he did to the Riddles and the Gaunts because there were other wizards nearby.
“What is it?” Ginny asks him. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Any trace of us,” Harry says slowly. “The Trace. Is there… is there any way they could’ve detected the spell Hermione did outside the house?”
“What spell?” Ron asks.
“Just before I came in. I checked if anyone was following me. Homenum Revelio,” Hermione tells Ron. “But, Harry… we’re all of age. There’s no way to put the Trace on a wizard unless they’re underage.”
“Exactly,” Harry says. “And it’s impossible to get the Trace off you if you’re underage. But what if there’s an underage wizard near us? Then the Department of Magical Law Enforcement will get notified as soon as they use magic, right? Or if someone uses magic near them. Remember Dobby?”
There’s a pause while they all seem to process what Harry’s said.
“How would we know who it is?” Ron wonders. “Surely knowing who it is will put us a step closer to finding out who attacked Hermione, right?”
“Ra ra ra,” Jamie puts in, straining to try and tug a lock of Hermione’s bushy hair.
“It’s almost definitely the person from before, too. The imposter who escaped. Same method of attack, and it’s too unlikely
“The answer’s obvious, isn’t it?” Ginny says impatiently, getting to her feet and getting her wand out. “There’s only one place that keeps a record of every underage wizard and their addresses. And we’re close by, too. We’ve got to go to Hogwarts.”
“You’re meant to be staying undercover here, though,” Hermione says.
Ginny rolls her eyes, and looks at Harry. “We’re not doing that,” she decides.
Harry is about to agree with her, and then considers it for a second, turning to glance at Jamie. If they’re attacked on the way, they can defend themselves, but Jamie…
“What about if you take Jamie to the Burrow?” he asks Hermione. She was hurt just yesterday, not to mention the fact that she’s pregnant.
“I’m more than capable–” Hermione starts.
“I know. Which is why I think you’re more than capable of keeping Jamie safe,” Harry points out.
Hermione seems like she’s about to argue, but then looks at Ron, who’s been looking at her worriedly for the last few minutes. “Well… alright, then,” she agrees reluctantly, much to Ron’s relief.
“So it’s settled, then?” Ginny asks.
Harry stands up as well, and leans over to take her hand. “It’s settled. We’re going to Hogwarts.”
Back to index
Neville’s the first one to spot them at the gates of Hogwarts. They only lift their Disillusionment Charms once they’re approaching Hogwarts — well, Ron and Ginny lift their Charms. Harry takes off his Cloak, which he had the chance to grab before they left.
Neville jumps when he sees them. He’s holding a bouquet of flowers unlike any flowers Harry’s ever seen before.
“Hi, Neville,” Ginny says cheerfully. “We wanted a word with McGonagall.”
“Official Auror business,” Ron explains.
“Well. Auror business, but also my business. Official Ginny Potter business,” Ginny says.
Harry waves in greeting, folding up his Cloak to try and get it to fit in the pocket of his jeans.
Neville narrows his eyes. “And it’s really you, is it?” he demands, getting his wand out from the pocket of his robes and pointing it at them.
Harry remembers that Neville was attacked by an imposter Luna last week. It makes sense for him to verify their identity. It’s a smart move. Now more than ever, Harry wishes that he hadn’t quit the force a few months ago to join Hogwarts and train to be a Herbology teacher.
“I told you to kill the snake during the Final Battle,” he tells Neville.
“You fell asleep on a stakeout the first month out of Auror training and I covered for you with Robards,” Ron puts in.
Ginny rolls her eyes. “You haven’t told anyone yet, but you’re taking those flowers to meet Hannah Abbott in the village.”
Neville lowers his wand, his cheeks a bit pink. “That last one was unnecessary,” he mumbles.
“Hannah’s nice,” Ron says with a grin. “Well done, Nev.”
“She’s great, isn’t she?” Neville says. There’s a dreamy look in his eyes that makes Harry think, inexplicably, of Ron accidentally eating Chocolate Cauldrons spiked with love potion back in their sixth year. Neville looks far less vacant than Ron ever did, though, and also happier in a way that he never looked while working with them at the Auror department. “I can take you to McGonagall’s office before I leave, though.”
Harry nods “That’d be great, Neville,” he says. “Lead the way. Just do me a favour and make sure we aren’t spotted by any of the others?”
Neville looks curious, but nods. He leads them through Hogwarts with an ease that makes Harry miss being at school. A burst of wistfulness surges in his chest, and he grabs Ginny’s hand and gives it a light squeeze. It feels almost like old times, sneaking through school with Ron by his side. All that’s missing is Hermione and the Marauder’s Map.
“Sherbet lemon,” Neville tells the gargoyle outside the Headmistress’s office, and then the four of them are on the spiral staircase, and it’s moving up like an escalator, and then in a matter of minutes, Harry’s knocking on the door.
“Come on,” says the familiar voice of Professor McGonagall.
Neville opens the door and lets the three of them in. McGonagall’s sitting at her desk, reading a long scroll of parchment. Behind her chair, Albus Dumbledore is fast asleep in his portrait.
“Hi, Professor,” Harry says.
McGonagall looks up, and then smiles as she sees them. “None of you are my students anymore, you know. You need not call me Professor.”
“It feels weird not to, though,” Ginny says, wrinkling her nose.
“Do you have a minute?” Ron asks.
“Of course. Is everything alright?” McGonagall says, sitting up.
“We need your help. It’s kind of a long story,” Ron says.
McGonagall nods, and waves her wand. Four chairs appear in front of her, and they sit down. “Have a biscuit,” McGonagall says, and pushes a familiar tin towards them.
“A biscuit?” Ron repeats, looking confused.
Neville looks at his watch and gasps. “Oh, I’d better be going. Thanks for the biscuit, Professor,” he says, grabbing one for himself before he leaves, closing the door behind himself.
“Oh, I’ve missed your biscuits, Professor. Been craving them,” Ginny says cheerfully, and helps herself to three of them. Harry turns to look at Ginny, suddenly distracted. The last time she craved biscuits like this… but no, now isn’t the time to think about it.
“You’re always welcome to come and have some, Miss Weasley,” McGonagall tells Ginny.
“But I assume that is not what you wished to discuss with me?” McGonagall says.
Harry shakes his head, distracted from the path his mind was wandering down. “No, Professor. We need your help.” He turns to look at Ron. Technically, Ron’s Lead Auror on this case. Ron nods at Harry, which is all the encouragement Harry needs to keep going. “There have been some imposter attacks recently. On Neville, and on Seamus, too.”
“Yes,” says McGonagall, “I’d heard about those.” That makes sense, Harry thinks, especially since Neville works here now. Of course she’d know about them.
“And…” Harry says, and leans over to grab Ginny’s hand, suddenly overcome by the fear as he thinks about someone wearing his face and attacking Ginny and Jamie, about someone who they don’t know Stunning Hermione and putting her life — and her baby’s life — at risk.
“And,” Ginny continues, when Harry doesn’t say anything else, “we were nearly attacked, too. We think. By someone impersonating Harry. And Hermione was attacked yesterday. She’s fine, but… we think it’s the same person. Who’s behind all of this.”
“She’s fine,” Ron says, and Harry notices that he still looks a bit pale. Harry can’t blame her. Thinking about Hermione in a hospital bed in Mungo’s has him feeling a bit nauseous, too. “She’s alright now. But we’re working on the case. No one knows that she was attacked, or that Harry was impersonated, though.” The don’t let it slip out is implied.
McGonagall listens to them patiently. “I see,” she says, and then steeples her fingers together. “I understand. How may I help?”
Harry lets out a soft sigh of relief, grateful that McGonagall isn’t pressing them for more details and is willing to help. “We need to know if there’s an underage student living in the area.”
McGonagall seems to understand immediately. “You believe the Trace was used?”
“It’s possible,” Harry says. “I got in trouble when Dobby used magic around me, just because it was near me. If someone was on the lookout…”
McGonagall nods slowly. “It is plausible,” she allows. “It would have to be someone very close to you. Where would this be?”
Ron fishes around in his pocket and then takes out a piece of parchment, handing it to McGonagall. “I’m Secret Keeper,” he explains.
McGonagall looks down at the address on the parchment, and then nods. “I see. I shall go look into the records. Please, make yourselves comfortable here,” she says and waves her wand again. A tray appears on the table, laden with a teapot, three cups, and a bowl of sugar.
Harry turns to watch as Ginny pours herself a cup of tea. “Are you feeling alright?” he asks her, before he can think better of it.
A wrinkle appears in between Ginny’s eyes. “Of course I am. Why wouldn’t I be?” she says, taking another biscuit from the jar.
“No reason,” Harry says, but he gives her hand a little squeeze. He’s just imagining things. It’s the stress, probably. Nothing else.
They leave Hogwarts an hour later. Ron’s holding a piece of parchment a name and address carefully written on it, and his face is as red as his hair. “Of course. Of course,” he mutters.
“Ron, calm down,” Ginny says, but she’s looking just as angry as he is. Harry can’t blame her. His own hand is clenched hard enough that his knuckles have gone white.
“I should have guessed. Death Eaters protect Death Eaters. I knew they got off too easy at the trials!” Ron says. “All of them. I knew we shouldn’t have believed the Imperius excuse!”
“Should we tell Hermione where we’re going?” Ginny asks, once they’re out of Hogwarts boundaries, when they can Apparate.
“Yeah,” Harry says, and gets his wand out. “Expecto Patronum,” he says, and a stag erupts out of his wand. “We’re going to investigate a lead, we’ll be back at the Burrow for dinner,” he tells his Patronus, and the stag disappears to go find Hermione and give her the message. There’s no point telling her where they’re going or who they’re investigating, not when Molly or Arthur might overhear it and get suspicious. They watch the stag, and Harry turns to look at Ron once it’s disappeared. “We don’t know if he’s involved,” he tells him. “It’s not his name on the parchment.”
“Yes, Harry, but you and I bloody well know he’s involved. His wife has a summer home in the area. A summer home, honestly,” Ron snorts.
“Harry’s right. No point jumping to conclusions,” Ginny says quietly, and takes Harry’s hand. “Are we Apparating, then?”
“Yeah,” Ron says.
“Not directly there, I don’t think,” Harry says, thinking about what Dumbledore told him, about most wizarding dwellings being protected from Apparition. “Let’s Apparate to the outskirts. We can walk from there.”
Ron nods. “Give me a five-minute head start, just in case it’s a trap. I’ll send word if it isn’t,” he tells Harry.
Harry nods, recognising the strategy from all the investigations he’s done with Ron. They’ve gotten very good at secret methods of communication over the years.
Ron hands the piece of parchment with the address on it to Harry, and then turns on the spot and Disapparates.
Harry takes his Cloak out and throws it over the both of them. It’s a tight fit, but they just about stay hidden. “We’re meant to be undercover,” he reminds her. “Don’t want to be seen, right?”
Ginny laughs at that. “We’re doing a pretty shit job of it, aren’t we?”
“We are,” Harry agrees with a laugh, and can’t stop himself from leaning in to press a kiss to the top of her flaming red hair.
“What do you think Jamie’s up to?” Ginny says.
Harry doesn’t think anyone else would be able to pick up on the slightly wistful note to her voice. He feels it, too, misses Jamie more than he would’ve thought. He looks at the watch on his wrist. “Probably just enjoying the attention he gets from Grandpa and Grandma,” he says.
Ginny grins. “That’s probably true. Do you think Hermione’s told Mum and Dad about her being pregnant yet?”
“I don’t know. I mean, she only just found out. I don’t know if she’s ready for a Weasley knitted blanket just yet,” Harry says dryly.
“Jamie loves his, to be fair,” Ginny says. “And I’m sure our future babies will love theirs, too.”
There’s a pause, where both of them look at each other. Neither of them say anything, but Harry knows they’re thinking the same thing.
Before they can voice it, though, there’s a tiny pop sound and then a piece of parchment appears out of nowhere. Ginny catches it before it can fall to the ground, and Harry leans in closer to peer at it.
All safe. R
“Together?” he asks Ginny, who nods and slips her warm hand into his. They both turn on the spot and Disapparate.
“Keep the Cloak on, just in case,” Ron says. He’s waiting for them, holding onto his wand tightly.
Harry nods and then, remembering that Ron can’t see them, says, “Alright. Lead the way. We’ll be right behind you.”
It’s not a very long walk. For all their attempts at being undercover, Harry thinks, they wound up here, fifteen minutes away from where they’ve been staying.
Ginny voices what she’s thinking, soft enough that only Harry can hear. “So much for being undercover,” she mumbles.
“This is the one,” he tells Ron, double-checking the address on the parchment. They’re at a nondescript house. Harry’s reminded of Number Four, Privet Drive, even though this house is much bigger. Something about the overly manicured garden and neat surroundings. It sets him on edge immediately.
Ron steels himself and then leans over and knocks. “Department of Magical Law Enforcement,” he calls out.
The door opens in seconds. “Did you have to be quite so loud about it, Weasley?” demands the wizard who opened the door. “Come in. Hurry up, or they’ll try to attack you again like they did with Granger. Come on!”
Ron half-turns to look at Harry, who takes his Cloak off. Both he and Ginny point their wands, and Harry’s never felt so focused, so ready to jinx someone.
“Of course. Of course the Potters are here, too,” Draco Malfoy says, and then sighs, but Harry notices that he doesn’t take his own wand out. “Well. I suppose you better come in. There’s a lot to explain, and not much time at all.”
Back to index
Author's Notes: sorry this has been so delayed! it was diwali and i was busy with festivities, and THEN i went and somehow mysteriously injured my knee?? all of this has made writing an uphill struggle, but hopefully the wait was worth it!
“Would you like to tell us,” Harry says, stepping into the house with his wand held aloft, “why you’re in Avery’s house?” From the corner of his eye, he sees Ron and Ginny exchange a look, but neither of them say anything or move from behind him.
“I don’t know,” Malfoy snaps. “For Merlin’s sake, will you come in already?”
Harry turns to glance at Ron. This could be a trap, he knows. It’s almost definitely some sort of trap. Get him and Ron and Ginny inside the house, and call a… a Death Eaters’ reunion meeting. Or something. He hasn’t thought the details through. He doesn’t want to go to the Ministry, though. After the imposter attack there, he’s worried about it, and he feels safer here with just Malfoy against him, and Ron and Ginny to back him up.
Ron nods, once, and Harry knows he’s on the same page as him. He doesn’t even need to look at Ginny to know what she’s thinking.
Sure enough, Ginny flips her long hair over her shoulder and walks into the house, deceptively casual but with her wand held at the ready by her side. Harry’s quick to follow her, and then Ron. Malfoy brings up the rear, and he points his wand at the door. Harry hears a lock click into place.
“So,” Ron says. “You say you don’t know why you’re in Avery’s house?”
“Even though,” Harry adds, “we know for a fact that you’ve got… family, nearby?”
“And that you were spotted here last month?” Ron adds.
“A very likely story,” Ginny says, and then walks into the kitchen, wrinkling her nose. “Merlin, my mum would have a heart attack if she saw the state of this place,” she mutters.
Harry can’t help but smile at that. He knows now, he thinks, how it was that Ginny knew immediately that the person at the Ministry wasn’t him. Because looking at her now, he knows that nobody in a million years has a chance in hell of trying to impersonate her and fooling him. She’s just herself, unapologetically so. It’s one of his favourite things about her.
“How do you know I was spotted here last month?” Malfoy demands.
“That’s not important right now,” Ron says.
“It is important, because I deserve to know if the bloody Auror department’s following me–honestly, don’t all of you have more important things to do than–”
“Malfoy,” Harry says, cutting him off without a shred of remorse. He doesn’t have patience to hear Malfoy’s drawl on the best of days, let alone today. “Why. Are. You. Here?”
The snarl on Malfoy’s face fades, and suddenly, he looks remarkably like he did a few years ago, in Malfoy Manor trying to deny that he knew Harry. “I… I was called,” he says.
“You were–what?” Ron says, but Harry sees the way Malfoy’s clenching the fist of his left arm, and he understands.
“The Dark Mark?” he asks. His heart sinks as he does, and it’s all he can do to not move his hand up to his scar.
Malfoy nods. Ginny gasps. Ron mutters, “Oh, for fuck’s sake, not this again.”
Harry narrows his eyes, and then points his wand at Malfoy, right at his face. “How do we know we can trust you?” he demands. “How do we know it’s you at all?”
Malfoy hesitates. “I… it is me. I don’t know how to prove it to you.”
“Tell us something,” Ron says. “Something only Malfoy would know.”
Malfoy looks at Harry. He goes even paler. “You used Sectumsempra on me. Sixth year,” he says, very quietly.
Harry lowers his wands. He feels a bit shaky now, and he’s grateful when he feels Ginny’s warm hand slip into his. The soft touch serves to ground him, to bring him back from the sudden memories that come flooding into his mind as he thinks about the incident.
“Right,” he says, and then takes a deep breath. He pockets his wand, and clears his throat. “Right,” he says again. “So it is you. Right. And the Dark Mark…”
“Hasn’t burned in years,” Malfoy says. “Not since… not for years. But it went off yesterday. In the evening. When Granger was attacked. Which is why I’m here.”
“So the Dark Mark burned and you came here immediately. And you know about Hermione. And we’re meant to trust you now? You’re clearly working for them,” Harry says, and forces himself not to say again.
“I didn’t come yesterday,” Malfoy says. “I ignored it. But I knew where it was coming from. Astoria… she’s a Healer. She told me about Granger. I wanted to investigate, so… when I thought it would be clear, I came here. And you showed up, an hour later.”
Harry steps back, and turns to look at Ron, who shrugs. It seems like neither of them know what to do with this information.
Apropos of nothing, Ginny says, “Your wife’s Astoria? Greengrass, right?”
Malfoy looks startled. “Astoria Malfoy now, but yes,” he says.
“I know her,” Ginny says. “She was training to be a Healer when I was pregnant with Jamie. She’s the one who recommended that tea that helped my morning sickness. Remember?” she asks Harry.
“Yeah. I didn’t know that was her,” Harry says.
“It was,” Ginny says, and then gets her wand out. Malfoy looks a bit scared, but all Ginny does is point her wand at the curtains, which draw shut. “Right,” she says. “All of this, all of what’s happening… It all can’t be a coincidence, right?”
“No. It can’t be. And how do we know we can even trust you about all of this?” Ron adds to Malfoy. “We know you’re you, but for all we know, you’re still a cowardly bastard who’s on their side.”
“I’m not,” Malfoy says.
“Convincing,” Harry says dryly. There’s a sudden bang outside, and Harry straightens up, suddenly reminded of the fact that this is not, by any stretch of imagination, a safe place to talk. Who knows what sort of Dark magic Avery’s set up here?
Malfoy straightens up, but he still looks scared.
“Say we believe you,” Harry says. He’s talking fast, now, because he has no idea how much time they have left to speak in relative privacy. “And we take your word for it. Then we know Avery’s involved in this, and that he activated the Dark Mark again. Right?”
“Right,” Malfoy says.
“Okay. Well… thanks, Malfoy,” Harry says. The words feel like cotton in their throat because of how much he doesn’t want to say them. “This has been… helpful.”
“That’s it?” Malfoy demands. “Aren’t you the Chosen One? Shouldn’t you go arrest Avery and end this now? Stride into battle or the like?”
He’s scared, Harry realises. He doesn’t want a resurgence of Dark activity, no more than any of them do. It’s that, more than anything else, that convinces him that Malfoy won’t betray them.
“Not just yet, no,” he says. “Lie low now, if you can. Write if you hear anything. We’ll be in touch soon. Come on,” he adds to Ginny and Ron, giving Ginny’s hand a squeeze.
“And–” Ron adds, “if the Dark Mark goes off again. Get a Patronus to us. As soon as possible.”
“I’d suggest you leave here soon, by the way,” Ginny adds lightly. “If Avery comes back and finds out that you didn’t answer his call yesterday, he’s not going to be too happy, is he?” Before Malfoy can respond, she’s leaving the house, tugging Harry with her with Ron bringing up the rear.
“Should we tell them?” Ron asks.
They’re in Ron’s old bedroom, the five of them: Ron, Hermione, Harry, Ginny, and an exhausted Jamie, napping in Ginny’s lap with his hands curled into tight fists around the material of her jumper.
“The others, you mean?” Harry asks.
Ron shrugs. “Mum and Dad can tell something’s going. And so can George. They seemed quite curious at dinner.”
“We can’t tell them,” Ginny says, before any of them can say anything. “They’ll be so worried. A Dark resurgence? That’s not casual dinner time conversation, is it?”
“They have lived through two wars,” Hermione points out. She’s sitting next to Ron on his old bed, her head resting on his shoulder. He’s patting her bushy hair every now and then; Harry doesn’t think Ron even realises that he’s doing that, or realise the way he’s got his spare arm wrapped protectively around her.
“Exactly,” Ginny says. “They’ve lived through two wars. And now they’re grandparents. Don’t they deserve some peace?”
“Well, for one,” George says from the doorway, ignoring their jumps and gasps of surprise as he talks, “if there’s a Dark resurgence, I don’t think you should tell Mum or Dad. You should tell me, though.”
“What the fuck,” Ron says, sitting up straighter now. “You’re–you’re eavesdropping!”
“Don’t swear in front of the babies,” George says casually, walking into the door with little Freddie in his arms.
Harry points his wand at the door to close it, and then says, “Muffliato. George, what are you doing here?”
“Freddie couldn’t sleep,” George shrugs, and then sits down next to Harry. “Besides, the four of you are shit are keeping secrets. Well–not Ginny,” he adds fairly.
“Thank you,” Ginny says, looking genuinely touched.
Freddie looks at Harry and then giggles says, with all the intelligence of someone who’s nearly two, says, “Specsy git!”
“I wish you’d stop teaching him things like that,” Harry grumbles, but lifts Freddie up, letting him settle into his lap. Freddie leans up to tug at Harry’s hair, and somehow manages to remove his glasses at the same time.
“Don’t blame me. I think Angelina taught him that. She’s the bad influence in our relationship, I keep telling her that,” George says, and then, “What’s all this, then?”
Ron looks at Harry, who shrugs. It’s Ginny who speaks up, though. “Do you want the short version or the long version?” she asks George.
“The short version,” George says.
“Alright, then. There were some imposter attacks. Someone impersonated Harry at the Ministry and tried to attack me and Ron and Jamie. And then Hermione was Stunned outside the safe house. And now Malfoy and Avery are involved, except we think Malfoy’s on our side, and also the former Death Eaters felt the Dark Mark burn right after Hermione’s attack, so it’s all a bit confusing and vaguely terrifying,” Ginny says.
George blinks, and says, “Actually, I think I need the long version.”
Ten minutes later, after Hermione’s finished filling George in on everything that’s happened over the last few days and Freddie’s fallen asleep right in Harry’s lap, George sits up.
“Well,” he says, “it’s clear what you need to do, isn’t it?”
“Is it?” Harry asks. It’s never been less clear to him. He has no idea how to proceed from here.
“Of course. You need to take a page out of their book,” George says.
“We need to Stun our friends?” Ron asks.
George flicks his wand, and the pillow on Ron’s bed lifts up and smacks the side of his head. “I have a plan,” George continues, ignoring Ron’s squawk of protest. “How much do you trust Malfoy?”
Harry considers. “I don’t think he’ll betray us. I think he’s scared of a Dark resurgence. Likes his comfortable life with Astoria too much to risk anything ruining that,” he adds, and can’t resist rolling his eyes.
“Exactly,” George says. “So write to him, and tell him to meet us in a week’s time. He’ll have to cooperate with us.”
“There’s just one problem, though,” Harry says. “You still haven’t told us what the plan is.”
A slow smirk spreads onto George’s face. “Well. If it’s true that the former Death Eaters are behind all of this, then we still don’t know their full plan, do we?”
“No,” Hermione agrees with a sigh. It frustrates her, Harry knows, to not know the full picture of what’s happening.
“And they’re not going to tell us the plan. But they might tell someone else. Someone who missed the first meeting,” George says.
Harry narrows his eyes. “You want Malfoy to go undercover to find out their plan?”
“No,” Ginny says. “I know he’s kind of our side here, but no. Absolutely not. I don’t trust him enough to do it.”
“Besides, he’s too much of a coward to agree to something that risky,” Ron puts in.
George shakes his head. “My dear siblings. You wound me. I wouldn’t trust that ferret with it, either. Which is why I said we need to take a page from their books.”
“Oh. Oh,” says Hermione softly.
“What are you talking about?” Harry demands, too exhausted and worried to keep up with whatever train of thought George is having.
George’s smirk widens. “I thought it was obvious,” he says. “One of us is going to have to impersonate Malfoy. We’re going to infiltrate the Death Eaters.”
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Author's Notes: i'm sorry about the delay! it's been a weird few weeks for me. this may well be the last chapter until 2021 (honestly, at this point i can't predict my writing schedule at all)- if it is, i hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday!
They decide on a Muggle pub in London, after several other suggestions.
“We could meet here. We know we’re safe,” Ron suggests at first.
“Absolutely not,” Harry says without missing a beat.
“Technically, the Fidelius charm means that even if he wants to give us away, he can’t, because only Ron can,” Ginny points out.
“No. Absolutely not,” Harry says again. The idea of inviting Malfoy into the one place where they know they’re completely safe makes him feel like he might break out in hives.
“Even if he lets slip the general location of the safehouse, it could be a problem,” Hermione says. “I was attacked right outside, remember? We don’t want to risk even accidentally alerting anyone to where we are.”
Ron grabs Hermione’s hand, and says, “Right. Definitely not this house, then.”
“How about Malfoy’s house? He’s got a summer house nearby, doesn’t he?” George suggests, bouncing Freddie in his lap.
Ron glances at Hermione, who’s been looking a bit pale all day, and then says, “No.” He’s extra on edge; they all are, but he’s been affected by what happened to Hermione in a way they all can pick up on. After the attack on Hermione and the events in Malfoy Manor years ago, Harry doesn’t push the point.
“Where do you want to do it, then?” George asks.
“Well, I think it should be somewhere close to the Ministry,” Hermione says immediately. “In Muggle London. It’s close enough that if everything goes horribly wrong and we need reinforcements, it’ll be easy to get them. And we can maintain relative anonymity in the Muggle areas, I think.”
Harry glances at Ginny, who shrugs one shoulder. From her lap, Jamie says, “Dada,” very insistently.
“Alright,” he says, and leans over to grab Jamie, lifting him up into the air and smiling at the sound of his delighted squeals.
Hermione picks up the letter on the table they’re all huddled around. It’s a short note from Malfoy, and it arrived about half an hour ago. In Malfoy’s pretentious penmanship, it reads,
Very well. Tell me the time and place, and I’ll come meet you to hear about this plan of yours.
“He writes like a proper git, too, doesn’t he?” Ron says, peering at the note.
“Ron,” Hermione says, but Harry notices that she doesn’t disagree with him. After a moment of furious scribbling, she says, “There. I’ve told him where and when. Min,” she calls out.
“Don’t call her that, her name’s Ermintrude,” Ginny says crossly, as Hermione ties the letter to their owl’s leg.
“I have no idea why you let her name your owl,” Ron says to Harry.
Harry shrugs. “Seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Malfoy replies within the hour with his acceptance of the time and place and just like that, it’s confirmed.
Harry feels less sure of their decision a week later, though. They’ve left Jamie and Freddie with Molly at the Burrow, and the five of them have worn their best Muggle clothes, jeans and old Weasley jumpers. Harry only hopes no one notices the dragon knitted onto his.
“What if someone sees us?” Ginny asks Harry, echoing his doubts just as he starts to think them. It’s eerie how she does that.
“Then we’ll deal with it,” Ron answers, and leads them towards a table in the back. He and Harry sit facing the door automatically, and Harry keeps his gaze fixed on the door.
“Well, if we’re facing down a Malfoy, then we need some drinks,” George says cheerfully. “What do all of you want, then? Butterbeers?”
“They don’t have those here, it’s a Muggle pub,” Hermione points out.
“You’re right. Well, then you should all be prepared for surprises,” George says, winking at them as he makes his way to the bar to get them drinks.
Five minutes later, Malfoy walks into the pub. He’s wearing an impeccably tailored black Muggle suit, and he looks distinctly uncomfortable as he steps over to them.
“Hello,” he says, gingerly.
“Have a seat,” Ron says.
He inclines his head by way of greeting and then pulls out a chair next to Ginny. Harry feels the absurd urge to punch him.
“So, what is this all about?” he asks.
George returns to the table before any of them can respond, setting down a tray of drinks. “They had regular beer, so it shouldn’t be too bad. You should probably not drink this one though, Hermione,” he says cheerfully. “Oh, Malfoy. You’re here. Good. We need some of your hair or toenails.”
“What?” Malfoy says.
Harry figures it’s as good as a place to start as any. “Here’s the plan,” he says. “One of us is going to infiltrate the Death Eaters. Disguised as you.”
George nods proudly, and then pushes a glass towards Malfoy.
“That’s… ridiculous,” Malfoy says.
“We’ve had more ridiculous plans, to be fair. Like Harry’s plan to defeat Voldemort. That one worked, didn’t it?” Ginny says with a saccharine smile.
Malfoy flinches at the mention of Voldemort’s name, but still doesn’t look convinced.
“You’ll be safe,” Hermione says. “Auror custody. We can arrange for —”
“If Auror custody means being at the mercy of Weasley and Potter, I’m not sure I’m too confident,” Malfoy says.
“We’re happy to not give you any custody or protection at all and throw you to the wolves if you prefer,” Ron offers.
Malfoy takes a deep breath, and seems to force himself not to rise to Ron’s bait. Harry almost wishes he would, because then he would have a reason to hex his smug face.
“Alright,” Malfoy says. “I’ll hear out your plan. And then we can do it. But… I want protection for my wife.”
Harry blinks, startled. “Of course we’ll protect her,” he says.
Malfoy’s expression relaxes minutely. “Alright,” he says. “Well, then. What’s the plan?”
“You know that this plan is… completely ludicrous, right?” Malfoy says, once they — mostly George — have finished filling him in on all of the details of the plan — everything they can share with him, anyway.
George shrugs, pushing Malfoy’s drink towards him. They haven’t gone back to the bar to get refills, but their drinks seem to never be getting over, thanks to — Harry suspects — George’s surreptitious wand movements beneath the table. “Ludicrous plans are the best, Malfoy. Have a drink.”
“I’ve had several, thank you,” Malfoy says and surely enough, his cheeks are slightly pink and there’s a hint of a slur to his voice.
“Well, have another, and relax,” George says easily. “Another drink, Gin?”
“I’m good, thanks,” Ginny says.
Harry turns to look at Ginny. She’s been nursing the same pint of beer for the last hour, and she’s had maybe a sip, if that. She catches his eye and raises her eyebrows in a way that he thinks means not now, so he leaves the topic. For now. He takes her hand under the table, though, and gives it a squeeze.
“So what do you hope to accomplish, disguised as me?” Malfoy asks, after a few generous sips of his drink.
“You don’t have to worry about that,” Harry says, slipping into what Ginny calls ‘Auror mode’ in a matter of seconds.
Malfoy rolls his eyes, and then stands up. “Right. Well. I’ll get in touch as discussed, then. Are you sure the charm will work?” he asks Hermione this last question.
“Quite sure,” Hermione says, and hands him a piece of parchment. “When it happens, write it down on this and tap it with your wand. It’ll reach us right away.”
“Very well,” Malfoy says, and without another word, he walks out of the pub.
“He didn’t even offer to pay,” Ron says.
“It’s not news that he’s an arse. He’s just not an arse who’s on the Death Eaters’ side anymore,” Ginny says.
“Or so we hope, anyway,” Ron mutters, and then stands up. “We should go, too. It’s getting late, and you’ve got that meeting for the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures early tomorrow morning, don’t you?” he asks Hermione.
Hermione jumps to her feet. “Oh, you’re right! I wanted to go over my notes for the meeting tonight, so we should go home. You’ll tell us if anything happens, won’t you?” She asks Harry and Ginny.
Ginny snorts. “We’re going back into hiding until Malfoy gets in touch, Hermione. Nothing exciting’s going to happen.”
“Don’t say that, you can’t ever be too sure,” Hermione says, but she smiles.
“D’you mind if I come back with you for a bit?” George asks Ron. “We’re ordering new stock for the joke shop next week, and I liked some of the ideas you had for the shop. You two be good, now. Tell us if the ferret gets in touch,” he adds to Ginny and Harry.
Within minutes, the three of them have left the pub, leaving Ginny and Harry.
“So,” Harry says, as casually as he can. “You’re not drinking, are you?”
“I’m not, no,” Ginny responds, just as casual.
“And you said you were craving McGonagall’s biscuits, earlier,” Harry continues.
Ginny looks at him, and then arches an eyebrow and says, “We’re not in an interrogation room, Auror Potter.”
Harry laughs despite himself. “I know, I know.”
“And if we were in an interrogation room,” Ginny continues, and Harry sits up straighter in his seat, “I’d tell you that I haven’t taken a test or a potion or anything. I haven’t been to Mungo’s. But… I have a feeling.”
“A feeling,” Harry repeats.
“A feeling, yes. I have a feeling, but we have more important things to deal with at the moment, don’t we?” Ginny says.
Everything, the details of the case, the danger they may or may not be in, seems to fly out of Harry’s mind at once. “Nothing’s more important,” he declares.
Ginny’s eyes soften. “I can’t exactly go to Diagon Alley or Mungo’s and ask for a potion right now, can I? We’re meant to be undercover.”
Harry considers. “We’re meant to be undercover as Muggles,” he says slowly.
“So what?” Ginny says.
“Well. Muggles have ways of finding out that stuff, too. We can get something from a muggle shop,” Harry says.
Ginny wrinkles her nose. “Well, I suppose we have no other choice, do we?”
“No,” says Harry, holding his hand out to help her get to her feet, “we really don’t.”
“I don’t trust these tests, you know,” Ginny says from the bathroom.
Harry leans against the door. “We can always ask your mum to send us a potion, if you prefer,” he calls out.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You know what my mum’s like,” Ginny says. A pause, and then the door’s opening and Ginny’s stepping out and continuing to talk. “She’ll send us fifty knitted baby blankets with the potions and gets her hopes up. And there’s a chance that it’s not, you know…”
“Yeah. Suppose you’re right,” Harry says, and peers down at the test in Ginny’s hand. “How long do we have to wait?”
“A few minutes, it said.”
“Enough time to get a cup of tea, I’d say,” Harry decides, and points his wand in the direction of the kitchen.
“I bet Dad would like hearing all about these,” Ginny says, following Harry to the kitchen and looking distrustfully at the test in her hand. “He wouldn’t believe that this is how Muggles find out.”
“Muggles also have doctors and stuff, to be fair,” Harry says. When Ginny looks confused, he clarifies, “Muggle Healers.”
“Oh, right,” Ginny says. “But still, it still seems easier to just sip a potion and see if it changes colours, don’t you think?”
“Definitely,” Harry agrees. “Accio cups. Do you think Jamie would like being an older sibling?” he says, setting his wand aside just in time to catch the two teacups that come flying towards him from the cabinet.
A slow smile spreads onto Ginny’s face. “Definitely. He’s having the time of his life playing with Freddie at the Burrow right now, I’m sure.”
“Of course he is,” Harry says. They’ve left Jamie with Molly and Arthur at the Burrow, and they’re going to pick him up right after they find out what this test says; Harry’s sure that whenever they pick him up, he’s going to be absolutely heartbroken to leave his grandparents and little Freddie.
“I just think —”
Harry never gets to hear what Ginny thinks, because just then, a Patronus appears in the kitchen. Ginny jumps to her feet, and takes Harry’s hand immediately.
“Malfoy just sent word. It’s happened. He’s in his house with Astoria, we’re going there now. Hurry up,” the Jack Russell terrier tells them in Ron’s voice, and dissolves into wisps of white smoke immediately.
“We need to go,” Ginny says immediately.
Harry nods and says, “You get word to your parents. I’ll go and get the Cloak, just in case.”
He can hear Ginny’s murmured Patronus Charm as he rushes to the front door, grabbing the Cloak from the hook next to it. Ginny joins him in a matter of seconds. As both of them step out of the front door, past the boundaries of the cottage so they can Apparate, neither of them think about what they’ve left behind on the kitchen counter, a Muggle pregnancy test that now displays ‘positive’.
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Author's Notes: i'm sorry this is late! life has been... a lot. hope you enjoy!
Harry hates this. He hates all of this. What he hates most of all is seeing Ginny’s face as they look at the Potion in the goblet George handed him.
“I don’t like this,” Ron says, mirroring his sentiments exactly.
“Me neither,” Harry says. “But… no better plan, is there?”
“I’m sure there’s something,” Ginny mumbles, perching gingerly on the edge of Malfoy’s sofa.
Hermione and George are upstairs with Draco and Astoria, sorting out their security arrangements for while Harry’s undercover. It’s just him and Ginny and Ron; Ginny, because she refused to leave Harry’s side, and Ron, because Hermione only agreed to leave with Malfoy and his wife if Ron made sure everything went exactly according to plan.
“If there was, then Hermione would’ve thought of it,” Ron says immediately.
“That’s true,” Harry agrees, and takes a deep breath. “Okay. Let’s go over the plan again,” he says.
Ron hands Harry a familiar-looking Galleon. “Once you Apparate there, tap this twice with your wand. We’ll be able to see what’s going on. Go in, get the information you can, and then get the hell out as quickly as you can.” Harry pockets the Galleon, and then Ron hands him a slip of parchment, covered in Malfoy’s elegant scrawl. “Here’s the address. Apparate there once the Potion takes effect. And if they ask why you’re late… well, then make something up.”
“Very helpful, Ron,” Harry says dryly, looking down at the address. Once he’s sure he has it memorised, he says, “Incendio,” and drops the now burning bit of parchment onto the floor.
“Aguamenti,” Ginny mutters, putting out the parchment before Malfoy’s fancy carpet can catch fire. Although it would serve him right. “Hurry back, okay? Don’t do anything stupid and heroic,” she tells him, and goes on his tiptoes, pressing a soft kiss to his cheek.
“He can’t make any promises, you know that,” Ron says with a small grin. “Go on, mate. We’ll be watching, we’ll see if anything goes terribly wrong. Oh–and here,” he says, handing Harry Malfoy’s wand. “Keep yours in your moleskin pouch, yeah?”
Harry nods. “Okay,” he says. He takes a deep breath, holds his nose closed with his free hand, and then drinks the Potion, finishing it in one go.
He could live to be a hundred and never get used to the sensation of the Polyjuice. A few very uncomfortable moments later, and he’s the double of Draco Malfoy. He takes his glasses off and slips them into the moleskin pouch around his neck, along with his wand, and then stands up straight.
“How do I look?” he says.
“Bloody terrible,” Ron says.
“A bit like a ferret,” Ginny puts in.
Harry grins despite himself. “Great. That’ll do, then. See you two soon.” He closes his eyes, holds on tightly to Malfoy’s wand, and Disapparates.
“Do you think I’ll ever feel calm during any of these bloody missions?” Ginny wonders. She’s sitting next to George, with Ron and Hermione, all of them in a loose circle on the floor of the living room in Ron and Hermione’s house. Malfoy and Astoria, thankfully, aren’t here, and have been moved to a safehouse. Ginny doesn’t know where, but she trusts Ron to make sure they’re alright, and doesn’t much care beyond that, anyway.
“Maybe,” Hermione says hopefully.
Ron snorts. “I’m usually with him on these bloody missions, and I’ve never felt calm about it once. How does this spell work, Hermione?”
“It’s sort of a modified version of the spell I used on the DA Galleons,” Hermione says, “and the spell on the mirrors that Sirius gifted Harry. So once he taps the Galleon, his will act as a reflective surface and we can see what’s going on.”
“You did all of that? That’s impressive,” George tells Hermione.
Hermione blushes, but before she can do anything else, the Galleon in the centre of their circle glows red-hot. Hermione taps it with her wand and mutters a spell. The Galleon shimmers and then turns reflective, but when Ginny peers in close, she doesn’t see herself; instead, she sees Harry, disguised as Draco but with Harry’s familiar Auror look on his features: frown, furrowed eyebrows, clenched jaw.
“Wait,” Hermione mutters and then taps the Galleon again. “Engorgio,” she mutters, and then, “Wingardium Leviosa.” The Engorged Galleon rises and hovers in front of them, giving them a clear view of what’s going on.
“Are you sure they can’t see us?” Ginny says worriedly. The last thing they need is to give away Harry’s cover and get him in trouble. She’s worried enough as it is.
“I’m sure,” Hermione says.
George wraps his arm around Ginny’s shoulder and squeezes her in a gentle hug. Ginny does her best to focus on the image on the Galleon, the slightly blurry picture of Harry approaching–a door of some sort.
Harry’s never been here before, not on an Auror stakeout, not ever. The house is dark, shadowed, sinister looking. The knocker on the door is shaped like a snake, and he shudders as he remembers the Gaunts and a snake nailed to the door, years ago in the Pensieve in Dumbledore’s office.
Malfoy wouldn’t shudder, though. And he can’t afford to break his cover. He affects the most bored look he can and approaches the door, pausing only to look down at the Galleon in his hand. It’s warm to the touch but doesn’t look too different. He hopes Hermione knows what she’s doing. He takes a deep breath, steels himself, and then leans in and knocks at the door.
It opens in what seems like seconds, revealing a Death Eater Harry hasn’t seen directly in years, not since the battle at the Department of Mysteries, the day when Sirius Black died. He’s heard of him since, of course — one of the Death Eaters the Aurors haven’t been able to catch. They’ve got a file on him at work, but he doesn’t need any of the resources of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to recognise the face in front of him.
“About time you showed up, Malfoy,” says Avery, sneering at him. “Was beginning to think you had gotten scared. Come in, everyone else is already here.”
“That’s–” Ginny breathes out, and then turns to look at Hermione.
Hermione, who’s gone a bit pale, only nods. “We knew–we knew there’d be a chance of Death Eaters,” she whispers. “And Harry’s dealt with worse. Right?”
“He’s dealt with Voldemort. Avery’s an idiot compared to him,” Ron points out. “Let’s just relax. It’ll be fine.”
Ginny doesn’t feel fine. She feels nauseous with worry. It’s been years since any of them have had to deal so directly with Death Eaters. “I think I’m gonna be sick,” she mumbles.
“Is it just having to see Harry wearing Malfoy’s face? Because I agree, that’s disgusting,” George says.
“Better or worse than when he was disguised as Goyle, do you think?” Ron asks Hermione, who wrinkles her nose.
George surveys them. “I know we’re dealing with something important right now,” he says, “but you both have to tell me that story later.”
“I don’t know if it’s worth telling. Not one of their better stories, I’d say,” Ginny says.
“Shh, he’s talking,” Hermione hisses, and they fall silent, turning their attention back to the Galleon.
“Everyone?” Harry repeats. He’s relieved when his voice comes out steady.
“You didn’t show up last time, did you?” Avery sneers.
Harry shrugs. “I did,” he says, thinking very quickly about what Malfoy had told them when they found him at Avery’s house, “but you’d all gone by then. Do a Homenum Revelio on your house, if you’d like.”
“We did,” Avery says. His sneer slips for a second, revealing–is that fear? Harry’s convinced that it is. They must have investigated the house after–and if they had, they probably found traces that Malfoy and a few other people would be there, which is why —
“That’s why you shifted headquarters,” he says.
“What?” Avery says, looking at Harry with a suspicious look on his face.
Harry takes a second and does his best to paste a sneer onto his face. “You’ve gotten slower, Avery,” he says.
Avery bristles, but he does look less suspicious as he leads Harry inside, so Harry counts it as a win.
It’s a proper Death Eater party, Harry thinks as he surveys the circle of Death Eaters in the living room. Some of them are even wearing hooded robes, so he can’t discern their faces. There’s only about six or seven of them, but Harry doesn’t like to think of even that many.
“First things first–” Avery begins, and breaks off when a young girl walks into the room, her eyes wide as she peers around. “What is it?” he hisses at her.
“I just–” she starts to say.
“I told you not to interrupt. Go back upstairs, don’t make me tell you again,” Avery says.
“Okay, Daddy,” she says in a small voice, turning around and making her way back upstairs.
So they were right, Harry thinks. Avery’s daughter. Seems to be old enough to be of Hogwarts age. And any magic used around her would set off the Trace. But if that confirms the theory, it still leaves some questions behind. Like how they knew that they would be in the area at all. How they knew how to get to Hermione. Whether they’ve found some way of infiltrating the Fidelius Charm.
“On to the next order of business,” says the person sitting next to Avery.
A man, Harry thinks, going by the voice, and a familiar-sounding one, too. That doesn’t really say anything, though, given the company he’s in: he’s unfortunately well acquainted with Death Eaters and their ilk, and he can’t place this voice, so it doesn’t immediately ring a bell, the way seeing Avery had.
“Yes, of course,” Avery says. “Well, our sources say that Granger’s left St. Mungo’s.”
“And did anyone see who attacked her?” asks someone else.
That piques Harry’s interest. He sits up straighter, moving his hand to the pocket of his robes in a way that seems casual, or so he hopes, and clenches his hand around the wand in his pocket.
“I was just going to ask Malfoy. Your wife’s a Healer, isn’t she?” Avery says to Harry.
Harry nods. “She is. But she wasn’t — er — on duty when Hermione was admitted.”
“Hermione?” repeats one of the Death Eaters mockingly. “Awful lot of sympathy for a Mudblood, Malfoy.”
Harry clenches his fist around the wand, but doesn’t say anything. Luckily, they seem to move on.
“If no one saw her,” Avery says, “then that means we need to try again. After all, the plan–”
“The plan? The plan? I hope you remember whose plan it was, Avery,” says the man who just mocked Harry. He draws back the hood of his robes.
“The plan,” Avery continues, “was to have the attacker seen, wasn’t it? Maybe you should have paid more attention to your plan, Lestrange.”
The name sends a shiver down Harry’s spine, and he turns to try and get a better look. This man looks nothing like Bellatrix, but then he frowns when a sudden memory occurs to him, of another trip to the Pensieve, the trial of Barty Crouch Jr, Bellatrix Lestrange, and two other men. Rodolphus and Rabastan Lestrange.
“And we won’t fail next time,” Lestrange growls.
“Maybe we won’t go for Granger next time. Two times, and it’ll be too suspicious,” Avery says. Potter’s wife, maybe we’ll go for her. Get her during a Quidditch match or something.”
Harry doesn’t even realise it, but he gets to his feet. Avery and Lestrange, and the five other hooded Death Eaters, turn to look at him in unison. “What is it, Malfoy?” Rabastan says.
Harry doesn’t know. His mind is racing to fast for his words to keep up, but he knows he needs to think of something on his feet now, or it’ll be far too suspicious. “I’ll do it,” he says. “I’ll do the attack. On Potter’s wife.”
Avery looks impressed. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
“Especially since you didn’t even show up last time,” Rabastan adds.
Harry doesn’t say anything, just watches the both of them in stony silence.
Ginny watches in horror. “What is he doing?” she hisses.
“You know what he’s like. Would rather get himself more involved than risk your safety,” Ron says.
“He’s putting himself in danger,” Ginny says.
“I think he just volunteered to attack you, Gin,” George says.
“No,” Hermione says. Ginny looks at her blankly, and she clarifies, “I mean, no, he didn’t volunteer. He’s undercover, which means he just volunteered for Malfoy to attack you. Which means…”
“Which means we have to find a way to get him to agree to yet another plan,” Ron says.
“Yes. It means we’ve got to do that after we worry about Harry getting out of a Death Eater meeting safely before the Polyjuice wears off, too,” Ginny says.
George whistles under his breath and says, “Wow. It’s never just a normal week hanging around with you lot, is it?”
Back to index
Author's Notes: another chapter to make up for how slow updates have been! enjoooy
Harry Apparates just as the Polyjuice Potion’s beginning to wear off; by the time he reaches the house, he feels like himself again, and he knows it’s worn off entirely. He puts his glasses on, takes his own wand out, and knocks.
The first thing Ginny says when she opens the door is, “I told you not to do anything stupid and heroic.”
“Make sure it’s really him,” Ron calls out from inside.
Ginny rolls her eyes. “Okay, fine. Harry. Why did you break up with me during my fifth year?”
Harry can feel a small smile at the corner of his lips. “For a stupid and heroic reason?” he says.
“Correct. Come in. Why the hell did you volunteer to attack me?” Ginny says, tossing her hair over her shoulder and all but stomping inside.
Harry follows her in dutifully, closing the door behind himself and pointing his wand at it to secure them.
“I can’t believe you,” Ginny says, before he can say anything. She seems to have worked herself up to an almost Molly-esque rage; Harry’s never felt fonder of her in his entire life.
“Hey. Gin,” he says.
She turns around and looks at him, eyes narrowed, arms crossed. “What?”
“Hi,” Harry says. He takes a tiny step closer to her and leans down to kiss her. He can feel her relaxing into the kiss, and after a second, he dares to wrap his arms around her waist.
“You’re an idiot, you know,” she whispers when she pulls back from the kiss, but she looks a bit mollified now.
“I know,” Harry says. He can’t explain the feeling of being there, surrounded by Death Eaters, who talk about attacking Ginny as easily as if it means nothing at all. “I just… I couldn’t stand by and do nothing.”
Ginny sighs. “I know,” she says softly. “You wouldn’t be you if you could ignore that.”
Hermione approaches them, looking nervous. Harry hands her the Galleon, and she puts it away in the pocket of her robes. “Harry, thank heavens you’re back. I think we should go back to the safehouse after getting the babies from the Burrow. I don’t want to risk being compromised.”
George and Ron follow Hermione, and Ron fixes his gaze on Harry. They exchange a look. Ron raises his eyebrows. Harry shrugs in response.
“We need to go,” Ron says, and Harry nods.
“Where?” George asks.
“We, er,” Harry says, and then wraps his arm around Ginny’s waist. “We need to go make sure Malfoy and Astoria are alright.” He has to force himself to say the words. The last thing he wants right now is to leave Ginny’s aside. Hearing Lestrange and Avery speak about hurting her has gotten him feeling protective, even though he knows Ginny’s more than capable of defending herself. She always has been.
“And to tell Malfoy to get in touch once those scum tell him what to do,” Ron adds.
The Death Eater meeting at Avery’s house had a surprisingly anticlimactic ending: Rabastan had grunted that they would get in touch with him for “the details” of it all, and Harry had been free to go. So all that’s left to do now, unfortunately, is to tell Malfoy a – very abridged – version of events so that they’ll know if the Death Eaters approach Malfoy with anything.
“See what being heroic and stupid gets you? More conversations with Malfoy,” Ginny tells Harry with a teasing smile.
He can’t say that he disagrees with her.
“Well, it’s good that you’re back in one piece, Harry,” George says, clapping Harry on the shoulder. “And it’s even better that you don’t look too ferrety, and you’re back to your scrawny, specsy self.”
“Thanks, George,” Harry says dryly, and looks at Ginny. “We’ll be back soon. It won’t take long.”
“It better not. I’ve had enough stress for a day,” Ginny mutters.
“So you’re telling me,” Malfoy says, sitting up in his chair, “that you’ve volunteered me for—this is all a trick, isn’t it? You’ll tell me to go and work with them, and then arrest me for it?”
Harry rolls his eyes. He’s spent half an hour with Death Eaters today, and this is still the most annoying thing he’s had to face today. “No,” he says, as patiently as he can manage.
“We’ll figure that part out, Malfoy,” Ron says. “For Merlin’s sake, I told you we’d keep you safe.”
“Forgive me if I think,” Malfoy starts to say, but Astoria gets to her feet, brushing off her skirt, and that seems to quiet him.
“Thank you,” Astoria tells them. “But we won’t have to be any further involved with this, will we?”
Harry considers. He doesn’t hate Astoria as much as he hates Malfoy, and for all intents and purposes she seems to be the sensible one in the relationship, so he’s honest with her. “I can’t promise that,” he says. “But—” he adds, ignoring Malfoy’s snort of exasperation— “I can promise that you two will be secured and kept safe, and that you won’t have to be in the line of action. All you have to do is get in touch with us as soon as any of them reach out to you.”
“How do you plan on keeping us safe?” Malfoy challenges them.
Harry sighs. “Don’t worry about the details,” he says. “If someone tries anything with you both, we’ll know. Just stay where you know it’s safe and get in touch if anything out of the ordinary happens. We’re on high alert”
Malfoy and Astoria look less than reassured, but Ron and Harry are leaving within a few minutes. “I hate that we have to work so closely with him,” Ron mutters.
Harry nods. He feels the same way.
“What did you mean, when you said you’ll know if someone tries anything?” Ron asks.
Harry turns around to check that they’re definitively out of the range of Malfoy and Astoria’s earshot. He definitely can’t risk them being overheard. “I mean… when I left the meeting, I had a second before I Disapparated.”
“Yeah,” Ron says, furrowing his eyebrows.
Harry doesn’t say anything, but Ron seems to get it after a minute.
“You’re not saying—Harry, you didn’t do—”
Harry nods. “I did, yeah.”
“A Tracking charm?” Ron hisses.
They both learnt it, during Auror training. But usually, the use of a Tracking charm is something that needs approval from either the Head of the Auror Department or the Minister for Magic; preferably both. He’d cast it on all the members at the meeting, in the split-second he had before he Disapparated, but he should’ve known Ron was onto him. He’s his partner; Harry hasn’t ever been able to hide anything from him during any sort of investigation.
“They’re Death Eaters. Convicted Death Eaters, who are in hiding,” Harry says. “I would’ve arrested them then and there if it didn’t mean giving up my cover.”
“I suppose you’re right,” Ron says.
“And they did threaten to hurt Gin. And they already hurt Hermione, Ron,” Harry says. He knows he sounds pleading, but he can’t help it.
Ron’s eyes turn steely. “Yeah. You’re right,” he says again, but he seems more convinced this time.
Harry relaxes a little. He doesn’t need Ron’s approval, but it feels good to have it.
“This investigation is just getting exhausting, isn’t it?” Ron continued. “I wish we could just arrest all the bastards.”
“Yeah,” Harry says. “We don’t have enough evidence though, do we?”
“Yeah,” Ron agrees. “And we don’t know what they’re capable of. We arrest one, what if the other six go on some sort of rampage?”
Harry nods. The best course of action, he knows, is to just follow the plan as best as they can. Slow and steady. They can’t afford to let anything slip by, not when they know what the Death Eaters are capable of.
“It’s just—” Ron continues, and then sighs.
Harry looks at him, frowning. “What is it?”
“I don’t know,” Ron says. “Sometimes I just don’t know how long I can do this, is all.”
“This. All of this. These investigations and danger and never getting to be home… it’s just getting a bit much, is all,” Ron says. “Before these imposter attacks, I thought maybe I would…”
Harry doesn’t let Ron complete the sentence. He has an inkling of what he’s going to say, and the idea of doing any of this without Ron by his side is not something he wants to consider. Not now, not ever, but definitely not when they’re dealing with everything. So all he says is, “Come on. We should go home, the others will be wondering where we are.”
George joins Ginny and Hermione to go to the Burrow, but once he picks up Freddie, he decides not to return to the safe house with them. “There’s work to be done,” he says. “And by ‘work’, I mean Angelina will kill me if I don’t fill her in on what we’ve been up to.”
“A lot of those details are classified, you know,” Hermione says.
“Of course, of course. I wouldn’t reveal classified details, you know me,” says George, very unconvincingly. He presses an absentminded kiss to Freddie’s hair, winks at Hermione and Ginny, and steps into the fireplace, Flooing to his flat in a matter of seconds.
Mum returns to the kitchen a few seconds after George leaves. He’s always had impeccable timing, Ginny thinks. “Hi, Mum,” she says.
Mum takes a long look at Ginny, frowns, and then says, “There’s time for a cup of tea before you leave.”
It’s not a question, and they both know it. Hermione and Ginny sit down at the table, and Ginny holds Jamie in her lap. He’s sweet and sleepy and is – for once – content to stay still and snuggle her. She’s missed him so much.
“How was your day?” Mum says carefully, sitting down with them at the table. She waves her wand; the kettle flies to the stove, and three cups come flying out of the cupboard and land on the table in front of them.
Ginny thinks of seeing Harry surrounded by Death Eaters, Harry wearing Malfoy’s face, volunteering to be the one who attacks her. Getting himself into trouble by being brave, like always. She thinks, for the first time since they left the safehouse of the test they left behind at there, the Muggle pregnancy test which they have no idea what it says. She thinks of the nausea in her stomach, the ache in her head.
“It was fine,” she finally says.
Mum levels her with a look, and then looks at Hermione. “How about you, dear?”
“Tiring,” Hermione says after a moment. “But… not a bad one, all things considered.”
Ginny has no idea how Hermione can think that, but before she can press the point, there’s an urgent-sounding knock at the door. she gets to her feet immediately, Jamie in her arms, and rushes to open it. She’s surprised to see Harry and Ron there, Harry looking absolutely frantic.
“Dada!” Jamie cheers, and leans over to grab at Harry’s hair.
“Why didn’t you say you were here?” Harry demands.
“I—what?” Ginny says, nonplussed.
“We went to the safehouse, and no one was there! I thought—I thought—” Harry looks awful, frazzled and stressed, with his hair even messier than usual, as if he’s been tugging at it in distress.
“Oh. Oh,” Ginny says. The realisation hits her then, of what Harry must’ve thought. “No, Harry. It’s fine. Mum just wanted us to have a cup of tea before we went back, is all.”
“There’s tea?” says Ron hopefully, and slips past the two of them to go into the kitchen. Ginny notices that he and Harry aren’t quite making eye contact.
“Dada,” Jamie says, more insistently, and Harry lifts Jamie into his arms, kisses his chubby little cheek.
“Sorry, sorry. Hi, Jamie,” he whispers to Jamie, and looks up at Ginny. His eyes are indecipherable, and Ginny takes a small step closer to him.
“I’m safe. We all are. Promise,” she whispers. “What’s got you so worried? You must have known there was a chance we would be here. The plan was to get the babies first, right?”
“Right,” says Harry automatically. He sets Jamie down, and Jamie toddles off back to his grandmum in the kitchen, as fast as his little legs can take him.
“What?” Ginny says again.
Harry wraps his arm around Ginny’s waist, and then takes out an object from his pocket. “I had time to get this. At the safehouse just now,” he whispers.
Ginny takes the object from him and looks at it. Her eyes widen when she sees what it is: the test from earlier, and it says…
“Fuck,” she breathes, suddenly feeling a bit faint. She drops the test and leans closer to Harry, and he wraps both his arms around her. “Another baby,” she whispers.
“Another baby,” Harry agrees, moving his hand to rub at her back.
They’re going to have a second baby, Ginny thinks. While they’re undercover and being targeted by rogue Death Eaters. Everything just got very, very complicated.
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Author's Notes: Yet another chapter! I cannot help myself! Enjoy!!
Time passes on in fits and spurts. They don’t hear from the Death Eaters — not Avery, not Rabastan, not any of the others.
“Or Malfoy has heard from them, and he’s keeping it from us,” Ron suggests.
“Why would he do that?” Hermione asks.
They’re going in circle; it’s been about two weeks since the Death Eater meeting, and none of them have heard anything at all. And it’s about the third or fourth time they’re having this exact conversation.
Harry turns to glance at the front door. Ginny left half an hour, claiming the urgent need for a walk. “I can’t fly because we’re undercover in a Muggle town, but I need some fresh air,” she said, and when Harry had gotten up to go with her, she’d kissed him and said, “I love you, but if I don’t get a minute to myself I might break something.” So he’d given in and she’d gone for a walk through the town, leaving Harry with Jamie. It’d gotten better when Ron and Hermione had arrived, but it’s quickly devolved into yet another conversation about what’s going on with the Death Eaters.
“I don’t know,” Ron says, and glances at Harry. “What do you think?”
Harry considers, and rests his head against the back of the sofa. It’s not as comfortable as the sofa in their house. He misses their house. He doesn’t know how long they have to be in this safehouse. It’s beginning to grow on him, though: the tiny Scottish town, the quiet of it all, having to work from home as much as possible. Lots of time to think, even if he doesn’t know what he’s thinking about.
“I think that Malfoy would’ve told us if he’s heard something,” he answers Ron.
“What makes you so sure?” Ron challenges him.
“He’s too much of a coward to want to face anything on his own. Especially Death Eaters,” Harry says, and then sits up. “Accio,” he says, and a scroll of parchment comes flying into his arms.
“What are you doing?” Hermione asks curiously.
“Explicate vestigium,” Harry says quietly, and presses his wand to the parchment.
Hermione gasps. “You didn’t–Harry, you Tracked them? That’s not allowed!”
“It’s not illegal,” Harry says, “just frowned upon. And we’re dealing with Death Eaters here. One of them is part of the group that tortured Neville’s parents,” he adds, and Hermione closes her mouth mid-objection.
On the parchment, a series of black dots appear, similar to the Marauder’s Map. They’re not labelled, but there’s seven of them. A drawing appears around the dots, a rough map of the area.
“There,” Harry says. “They’re here. Still headquartered in Avery’s house. Probably sorting out their next move. Or–” he falls silent suddenly.
“Or what?” Ron says.
“Nothing,” Harry says, and taps the parchment again. It clears up, and Harry Banishes it back to the dining table, where it came from. “It’s just… well, they’re Death Eaters. It’d be obvious if they were out and about, wouldn’t it?”
“Not if they were disguised,” Ron points out.
“Or if they weren’t the ones doing the dirty work,” Harry said quietly. “Remember Voldemort? The Death Eaters weren’t the only ones working for him. And he liked some secrecy, didn’t he? A lot of the Death Eaters didn’t even know who the others on their side were.”
“So you think…” Hermione whispers.
“I think they’ve learnt from their leader,” Harry says grimly. He turns to look at the front door when it opens, and Ginny finally — finally — comes in.
“Hi,” she says cheerfully, taking her old coat off and hanging it up by the door. “I didn’t know you lot were here, too. I’ve been thinking, and I know what we need to do.”
Harry stands up, holding his wand firmly. “Did you see something when you were out?” he asks. Suspicious, because he’s always suspicious these days, or so it feels like, anyway.
“No,” Ginny says, waving a hand dismissively. She walks up to Harry, kisses his cheek, and then scoops Jamie up from his little cot to cuddle him. “But I think I’ve figured out why the Death Eaters haven’t made a plan to attack me yet.”
Harry winces. He’s still not sure he’s alright with hearing Ginny talk about it so casually.
“Why’s that?” Hermione asks.
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” Ginny says. “We’ve been hunkered down in this safehouse, undercover, ever since the meeting. They said in the meeting that they wanted to get me during a match or something. But I haven’t been going to Quidditch practice. I haven’t been going anywhere. Nor have you. How will they plan to attack me if they don’t see me?”
Harry’s heart sinks in his chest. He knows what she’s going to suggest, and he hates it. He doesn’t know if it’s worse because of Jamie, or because he knows they’re going to have another baby soon, but he hates the idea of Ginny putting herself into any danger.
“What are you talking about, Ginny?”
Ginny sits down on the sofa. “Well, I think we should write Malfoy, and tell him he needs to attack me. And we can’t hide anymore. We’ve got to start going out in public. No more undercover.”
Later that night, after Ron and Hermione have left and Jamie’s tucked up in his cot, Ginny fixes Harry with the best look she has. She’s learnt it from her mum. It’s the I know what you’re thinking look. The you can’t hide from me look.
“What?” Harry says, moving to lie down in bed once he’s gotten his glasses off. He keeps his wand closer to him than his glasses, Ginny notices, under the pillow he’s resting his head on. Always at the ready. Constant vigilance. He’s wearing an old pair of pyjama bottoms and not much else, and his forehead is furrowed with frown lines. His jaw is covered with a couple days’ old stubble, and he looks exhausted. He’s looked like that for the past few weeks. Ginny remembers the pregnancy with Jamie, all the stress that Harry put himself under. And that was back when their lives weren’t in immediate danger. Well, that they knew of, anyway.
Ginny moves to lie down next to Harry and turns on her side to face him. “You’re panicking,” she says.
To his credit, Harry doesn’t deny it. Not to his credit, he doesn’t say anything at all.
“It’s going to be okay, you know,” Ginny says quietly.
“You don’t know that,” Harry says after a moment, and moves a bit closer to her. He wraps his arm around her waist.
Ginny brings a hand up, runs it through his messy hair gently. “I don’t, yeah. But… I mean, it’s just a few rogue Death Eaters. We’ve survived Voldemort, haven’t we?”
“Yes, but…” Harry sighs.
Ginny understands what he’s saying. “But we didn’t have one and a half babies then, right?”
Harry’s lips quirk. “One and a half?” he repeats.
“Jamie, and our little half-Potter here,” Ginny says, moving her hand out of Harry’s hair to rest on her stomach to better illustrate her point.
“Half-Potter,” Harry repeats, sounding impossibly fond. He rests his hand on top of hers on her stomach. His hand is warm and covers hers entirely, and Ginny feels herself relax. Seems like she was stressed too, and it’s not just him. “I like the sound of that,” he decides.
“Our baby Lily,” Ginny says.
Harry looks up at her. His eyes are impossibly green. His mother’s eyes, or so Ginny’s been told. She wonders about his mum sometimes. She thinks she would’ve gotten along with her. She’s only met one Potter in her life, but she’s confident she’d love all of them. “Lily?” he says softly.
“I feel like it might be a girl,” Ginny admits.
“Yeah? I’d like that, I think,” Harry says softly. “What if you’re wrong and it’s a boy?”
Ginny shrugs. “I don’t think it will be,” she says breezily. “And if it is, we’ll figure it out. But if it’s a girl…”
“Lily Potter,” Harry says, completing her sentence. “Are you sure?”
Ginny raises her eyebrows at Harry. It’s maybe the most ridiculous thing she’s ever heard him say in her entire life. And she’s heard him say a lot of ridiculous things. “Why wouldn’t I be sure?” she asks. “She was your mum. She saved your life. Besides, if we name one baby after your dad and don’t name the next one after your mum, it’ll be like we’re choosing a favourite. And we can’t have that. So that’s sorted out, right?”
Harry’s eyes are a little bright, and his voice sounds thick when he says, “Right.”
Harry’s never been able to say no to Ginny. He can’t deny that she’s right, and besides, something about her bravery and confidence makes everything seem possible, so he listens to her. They start going out. They take Jamie to Diagon Alley during the day a few times, Harry puts in an appearance at the Ministry every so often, and Ginny makes sure to be spotted near the Holyhead Harpies headquarters. Never without additional protection, and never for longer than an hour or so at most, but it still makes Harry feel incredibly nervous. By silent agreement, they don’t discuss their nerves, but Harry knows Ginny’s just as anxious about it as he is.
They don’t have to wait much longer. A month after the Death Eater meeting, two weeks after they’ve started (reluctantly) going out in public, when they sit down for a cup of tea in the early morning, there’s a tapping at the window.
“Isn’t it odd that the Fidelius doesn’t work on owls?” Ginny muses, and then frowns. “Wait. Who’s writing to us?”
“Might be useful to open the window and find out, Gin,” Harry says around a yawn. He gets to his feet and opens the window, accepting the letter from the tawny owl.
“I don’t like the look of that owl,” Ginny declares.
Harry glances at her, amused. “No? Why not?”
“It looked suspicious,” Ginny says. “It looked like a bad owl. Bad, bad owl. Isn’t it, Jamie?” she cooes to Jamie in her lap.
“Bad owl,” Jamie agrees happily, because Ginny’s always been his favourite.
Their owl, Ermintrude, seems to agree, too, and chirps angrily after the tawny owl as it flies away. Harry throws a few owl nuts at her post, which she’s all too happy to eat. “Min agrees with you, I think,” he says, and sits back down at the table. The envelope is addressed to him and Ginny, so he opens it and reads it aloud to her:
Dear Harry and Ginny,
How are you both? I’m back in town for a short while, so I thought it might be nice to meet you both for a drink. Do you want to come to the Leaky Cauldron this Friday to see me? Let me know as soon as you can.
“Give me that,” Ginny says, holding her hand out.
Harry hands her the letter, and then frowns. The first attacks, the ones that started all of this. Seamus had been attacked by an imposter Dean, and Neville by someone who was impersonating…
“Luna,” he says.
“I think this is them, Gin,” he says. He doesn’t say any more; he doesn’t need to, because Ginny gets his point immediately.
“Yes, I think so, too. Luckily, there’s a way of proving it,” she says.
Harry watches as she unclasps a necklace from around her neck. She doesn’t wear too much jewellery: it’s only ever her wedding band, sometimes her engagement ring, and this necklace — a coin on a chain — so Harry recognises it immediately.
He leans in as Ginny takes her wand and presses the tip of it to the DA Galleon. She frowns in concentration, and Harry watches as the serial numbers transform into the message: LUNA, WHERE ARE YOU? — G
Within minutes, the Galleon’s lighting up with Luna’s response: BULGARIA, U?
“I knew it,” Ginny says, tapping her wand to the coin again. She hands the necklace to Harry and lifts up her curtain of red hair, and Harry instinctively leans over to fasten the clasp of it around her neck. “Luna and I are the only ones who still use these. Well, and Neville sometimes. I knew there’d be an easy way to reach her. She was in Bulgaria when the first attack happened, too, wasn’t she?”
Harry nods. “She was. We triple-checked it.”
“Looks like the Death Eaters still have a batch of their old Polyjuice for Luna, then,” Ginny says. “They’re getting sloppy, reusing the same disguise. They must really want to attack me.”
Harry frowns. He’s not sure he likes how casual she is about this. Just the possibility of her getting attacked is enough to make him feel panicky and terrified, even if they’re in on the plan.
“You should tell Ron,” Ginny continues. “Oh, and Malfoy, I suppose. They’ll reach out to him next.”
“Tell them what?” Harry says.
Ginny looks at Harry, raising her eyebrows. “That we’re going to write them back and accept, of course. Which means,” she adds cheerfully, “that I’m going to be attacked on Friday.”
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Author's Notes: here we are! the final chapter! thank you all for being on this fun lil journey with me. i hope you like it! let me know what you think!
“There’s a problem,” Harry says as he walks into their bedroom. Jamie’s asleep in his bassinet by the bed, and the sun is just starting to set, bathing the sky in a blur of pink and orange and red.
Ginny looks up at him. “Is the problem that our son is refusing to walk, even though I know that he can do it?”
A slow smile spreads onto Harry’s face. “He’s only one and a half, Gin, he’ll walk when he’s ready.”
“No, I think he practices in private,” Ginny says.
Harry rolls his eyes, and then walks up to her. He’s holding two cups of tea, and Ginny gives him a grateful smile as she accepts hers.
“What’s the problem?” she asks him.
“Luna invited both of us to the Leaky Cauldron on Friday,” Harry points out. “And they’re going to send a Death Eater to attack you. And I’m the one who volunteered.”
“Technically, they think Malfoy volunteered,” Ginny says, and then considers it. “No, but I know what you mean. You can’t attack me if you’re with me.”
“No. And I don’t think I can disguise myself as someone else if I’m already disguised as Malfoy,” Harry says, and sits down next to Ginny.
Ginny wrinkles her nose. “All of this is starting to confuse me,” she says.
“We’ll have to see what Malfoy says. What the Death Eaters think the plan is,” Harry says.
“I don’t see why you can’t just arrest the lot of them now and be done with it,” Ginny says, resting her head down on Harry’s sturdy shoulder.
“Well, we don’t know for sure that they’re the ones who did it, for one,” Harry says, “and we’re not sure who’s doing it. We only know a few of them. A few of them kept their hoods on at the meeting.”
Ginny groans. “I hate this,” she mumbles.
It’s all beginning to wear on her; Harry can tell, and he absolutely can’t blame her for it. They’ve been undercover, been to Death Eater meetings — well, just the one, but it was quite significant — and Harry hates this. The last thing they need now, when they’re going to have another baby, is this sort of stress. And the fact that it’s coming from someone they know well enough to get into their house, to know how to target their friends, to attack Hermione…
“It’ll be over soon,” he says, because he’ll make sure it will be. He’ll do whatever it takes.
“Yeah?” Ginny says. She sounds wistful. “And then we can return to our lives…”
“Go back outside without being worried,” Harry says.
“You’ll always be a little worried.”
“A little bit,” Harry agrees fairly.
“You know what I’m looking forward to? Getting to go back inside our own home,” Ginny adds.
“Yeah,” Harry says, and then pauses.
“What is it?” Ginny says, because she knows him well enough to know what his expression means.
Harry shakes his head. He doesn’t know how to articulate what just occurred to him. He sits on the edge of the bed, taking a deep breath. His thoughts are racing a mile a minute, and Ginny’s voice sounds like it’s coming from far away.
It has to be… if it’s the Death Eaters — which they know it is, or that they’re involved, anyway — then there’s no other option. The only possible thing is something they didn’t consider. Something they were stupid to not look into. It can’t be anything else…
His thoughts are interrupted by a knock at the door, and he jumps, reaching out for his wand immediately. The doorbell goes off right after the knock, and it wakes up Jamie, who starts to fuss and cry in his bassinet.
“That’ll be them,” Ginny says.
This morning, they’d written to Ron, Hermione, and George, telling them the plan for Friday and asking them to come over for dinner to discuss it further.
“You can tell all of us what just occurred to you. Save us some time,” Ginny says. “I’ll go get the door. You deal with Jamie. I’ll see you in a minute.” She gets to her feet, taking the last sip of her tea and brushing off her pyjamas before making her way downstairs.
Harry, still half in a trance, gets Jamie and holds him close, feeling dizzy from how fast his mind is going.
By the time Harry comes downstairs, the other four are at the dining table, and Ginny’s in the middle of filling them in.
“And we know it’s not Luna, because she’s abroad. So it’s definitely someone from the Death Eaters’ little group,” she says. “So I’m going on Friday.”
“But we don’t have that much more to go on than we did before,” Hermione says. “And you’re pregnant, Ginny. What if you get really badly hurt?”
“They haven’t badly hurt anyone yet,” Ginny says. Her jaw is set in stubbornness, and Harry feels a sudden rush of fondness for her, even if he does agree with Hermione.
“Yes, you know Death Eaters. Always so unwilling to hurt anyone too badly,” George says.
“Well, it’s the only way we’ll find out who’s actually been doing all of this, the only way we’ll get proof!” Ginny says.
Harry holds Jamie a bit tighter in his arms, and then meets Ron’s gaze. They both haven’t talked, not since what Ron almost told him outside Malfoy’s. He knows what Ron almost told him. And he knows that Ron knows, too. He isn’t ready to have that conversation yet, though.
Ron meets his eyes, and then sits up, frowning. “You know something,” he says. It’s not a question. “Something you’re not telling us.”
The others look at him at Ron’s words, Hermione with her brows furrowed and George with his eyebrows raised.
“The Death Eaters,” Harry says quietly. “The ones who escaped Azkaban or who were never apprehended or who finished their jail terms and got out on good behaviour, the ones who I saw at the meeting. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement keeps track of them.”
“Not just the Department,” Hermione says pointedly.
Harry thinks about the Tracking charm, and nods. “Not just the Department,” he says.
Hermione frowns, but she doesn’t tell him off again for it. Harry counts that as a victory, all things considered.
“So what if the Ministry keeps track of them?” George says. “They haven’t arrested them yet, which is how they’re still out here plotting their bastardly plans, right? No offence, mate,” he says.
“No,” Harry says, a bit frustrated that no one’s understanding what he’s trying to get at. “No, what I mean is. The imposter that we got. The one who was, you know, pretending to me. They got out, right? Escaped?”
“Yeah,” Ron and George say at the same time.
“And they got into our house, too. Flooed to the Ministry from there,” he says, gesturing to him and Ginny. “But our house is warded. No one can get in from the outside unless we want them to. Not even most people at the Ministry. It’s only connected to the Auror department, they’re the only ones who have access to it.”
Hermione’s frown grows deeper. “Yes, but… Someone infiltrated it, which is why you’re even in hiding, right?”
“What if it wasn’t an infiltration?” Harry says. “And what if it wasn’t a coincidence that the imposter got free? What if the same person who let the imposter escape was the same person who gave them access to the Floo that got them into our place? And what If it wasn’t a coincidence that the Death Eaters knew the location of our hideout, enough to use the Trace against us? The Trace gets reported to the Ministry. They would’ve known, the second Hermione got attacked.”
“But… that would mean…” Hermione whispers.
“It mean it’d be someone at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement,” Harry says. “Someone we know. Someone Ron and I work with. It means–”
“That it’s an inside job,” Ron completes.
Harry nods grimly. “Which means we’ve got work to do.”
An hour later, Ron and Harry are at the Ministry, at the Department of Magical Law Office. More specifically, at the tiny breakroom in the Auror Office. It’s just about big enough for a kettle, a table, and a few chairs.
“I wouldn’t do it if you didn’t want me to, you know,” Ron says.
It’s been silent for the last few minutes, but Harry knows exactly what Ron’s talking about. He looks up from the Floo logs he’s been pouring over. “Yeah?” he says.
Ron nods. “Yeah.”
Harry wants to say then don’t. He wants to say why do you want to leave, how am I meant to be an Auror without you by my side. He doesn’t say any of that, though. He owes it to Ron to be nice about this, as much as he can, despite how disappointed he feels. “Why do you want to?” he asks instead.
There’s a soft thump as Ron sets the heavy file he’s pouring through down. He picks up another, opens it and takes out a piece of parchment, and then says, “There’s going to be a baby,” he finally says. “I’m terrified, mate. Didn’t you feel it, when you first found out about Jamie? It’s not exactly a safe job, what we do.”
Harry thinks about it. He supposes Ron’s right, but… “It worked the other way for me,” he says. “When I found out about Jamie. I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could to make sure no one ever hurt my family.”
Ron nods, and looks back down at his file.
“I think I get it, though,” Harry admits. “I mean, we have been in a lot of danger the past couple of months.”
“I think it’s more the last few years, really,” Ron says. “Last fifteen years, more or less.”
Harry nods. That’s a fair point. “What will you do, then?” he asks.
Ron’s casual manner is affected, nonchalant to the point of self-consciousness. “George asked me to run the shop with him.”
“Seriously?” Harry says, shocked.
“Yeah. We’ve been working on a couple of things together. A new idea for a wizard’s chess set, things like that. And I don’t think he likes to handle it alone. He’s used to a partner, isn’t he?” Ron says. “Besides, things at the shop will be a bit… calmer.”
“I wouldn’t count on it being that calm,” Harry says, thinking of the countless displays of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes firecrackers he’s seen.
Ron shrugs. “Well, reckon I’d get bored otherwise,” he says. “You’ve got me used to a life of excitement.”
“I think having a baby will be enough excitement for a while,” Harry says.
Ron’s eyes light up. “Are you joking? It’s the most bloody exciting thing that’s ever happened.”
Ron looks back down at his file, and then widens his eyes. “Wait. Harry, look at this.” He passes the parchment to Harry that he’d been looking at.
Harry looks at it: it’s a list of names, titled in Padma Patil’s neat hand: New Recruits to the Auror Department.
“Is this from this year?” he asks.
Ron nods. “They just joined the department this year. Graduated Auror training.”
It’s a small list, only ten or so names. Harry reads it through, frowning.
“Look at the last name,” Ron prompts him.
“Peter Thicknesse,” Harry reads out, and then widens his eyes. “Wait. Is his father–”
“Minister for Magic under the Imperius Curse during the war? Yeah. That’s him,” Ron says grimly, all traces of a smile gone.
“But he was let off, wasn’t he?” Harry says. “No prison time or anything,”
“Because of the Imperius, yeah,” Ron agrees. “But it’s the only suspicious name. The only name connected to the Death Eaters at all. But he should be grateful, shouldn’t he? His dad didn’t have to go to Azkaban. All charges were dismissed against him.”
“But…” Harry leans back in his chair. “He didn’t get a job after, did he?”
“Well, who’d want to hire him?” Ron grumbles.
Harry frowns. Thinks about who was attacked. Neville. Seamus. Hermione. Ginny’s planned for next. All in public. All where someone can see. He opens his mouth, but before he can say anything, the door of the break room opens with a bang.
Harry and Ron turn around in unison, wands drawn, and Harry frowns when he sees who it is. Pius Thicknesse, his long black hair liberally stroked with grey and a scowl on his face, brandishes his wand at them. “Hands up, both of you,” he says. All traces of the calm, Imperiused Minister from the war have vanished.
Harry turns and glances at Ron, who inclines his head slightly. May as well. Harry sets his wand down on the table, raises his hands up and rests them on the back of his head. He sees Ron’s hand, from the corner of his eye, twitch near his pocket before Ron raises his hands as well.
“I knew it,” Pius says, a politician’s smirk on his face. “I knew I’d get you both soon enough.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t have let them go to the Ministry alone,” Hermione says. She’s pacing the small living room of the safehouse. All around her, there are pieces of parchment levitating in the air, things they’ve been able to put together, all of Hermione’s notes, some case files. She’s been studying them in between bouts of worry.
“They’ll be fine, Hermione,” George says confidently. Ginny wishes she felt as confident. “Besides, someone had to stay with Jamie, didn’t they?”
Ginny looks down at Jamie in her arms, curled up in her lap with his head resting against her chest. She thinks she’d be going insane without the soft weight of her baby in her arms, the sound of his deep, rhythmic breathing. Well. She might be going insane anyway.
“Do you think Harry’s right? Do you think it’s an inside job?” she asks.
“It has to be. Nothing else makes sense,” Hermione says, sighing in frustration. “But what sort of person at the Ministry would leak information to the Death Eaters?”
Ginny turns to look at George. They exchange an incredulous look.
“Hermione, I don’t think the Ministry is as free of corruption as you think it is,” Ginny says.
“Well… yes, I know, but I thought we were getting better. I thought we were part of the solution, not the problem,” Hermione says.
“I think it’s both,” George says. “The Ministry’s big. Plenty of space for corrupt fuckers.”
Hermione doesn’t answer them but continues to pace through the living room, all the way to the kitchen. And then, suddenly, she gasps.
Ginny and George get up at once, Ginny holding Jamie with one arm so she can take out her wand. “What is it?” Ginny says.
“Ginny! George! Come here!” Hermione calls out. She doesn’t sound fearful, so Ginny relaxes minutely as she follows George out to the kitchen.
The kitchen looks the same as always, except for the fact that a pulsing blue-white orb of light is hanging in the middle, suspended in nothingness. It reminds Ginny of the light coming from the Portkey, and it seems to have no source.
“What the bloody hell is that?” Ginny says.
“A curse of some kind, maybe,” George says, looking far more serious than he has in the recent past.
“Does that mean–did the Death Eaters send some sort of curse–how did they know where to find us?” Ginny demands. She looks at Hermione, because Hermione always has the answer.
To her amazement, Hermione doesn’t look scared. Or anxious, or nervous, or anything. She’s smiling. “The Deluminator,” she whispers, an aside to herself that Ginny doesn’t understand. What does the Deluminator possibly have to do with this? How is it connected?
Hermione looks at Ginny then. “Do you trust me?” she asks.
Ginny doesn’t have to hesitate, not for a single second. “Of course,” she says.
Hermione looks relieved. “Good. George, you’ll take care of Jamie, right?” she asks.
“Why, where are you two off to?” George asks, but he takes a sleeping Jamie from Ginny.
“We’re going to find Ron and Harry. They’re in danger,” Hermione says. “Trust me.” She takes Ginny’s hand then. “We’re going to have to Apparate. Keep your wand at the ready,” she says.
Ginny doesn’t have a chance to resist before Hermione takes her to the front door. The orb of light follows them and then — remarkably — floats towards Hermione.
“I have no idea what the fuck is happening,” Ginny whispers.
“Keep your wand at the ready,” Hermione repeats. The light floats towards Hermione’s chest and then somehow seems to dissolve into her, vanishing completely. Hermione closes her eyes, redoubles her grip on Ginny’s hand, and Disapparates.
“What do you hope to get out of this, Thicknesse?” Harry asks. Both their hands are still up, but he doesn’t make any move to stand up or grab his wand.
“You took everything from me,” Thicknesse says. “I had a career. I was the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement!”
Harry glances at Ron. Ron rolls his eyes, but Thicknesse doesn’t seem to notice, thankfully. Keep him talking, Harry mouths to him, and Ron nods minutely.
“And then I was the Minister,” Thicknesse continues.
Harry’s never been more grateful than now that Pius Thicknesse seems to love the sound of his voice. It buys them some time.
“You were the Minister because Voldemort and his Death Eaters Imperiused you,” Ron says.
“But I was a loyal Ministry man before that,” Thicknesse says. “And I threw off the Imperius attempts at first. And I wasn’t Imperiused before that, when I was named the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.”
“Which is why you weren’t arrested, once the curse was off you,” Harry says.
“But not being arrested isn’t enough,” Thicknesse says. There’s an ugliness to him, an ambition in his eyes that repulses Harry. “No one wants to hire anyone who isn’t associated to Harry Potter. I lost everything I had.”
It clicks, then. “So you thought you’d make it seem like we were turning on each other?” Harry says.
Thicknesse sneers. “Lucky that I knew how to get in touch with the Death Eaters. My daughter knows Avery’s daughter, at school. They believed me, when I said I was on their side. And my son–”
“He gave you access to the Auror department,” Ron says.
“He did. Access to the Floo at your house, too. And when he told me about the Fidelius, he couldn’t tell me where it was, but he knew enough to know the village.”
“Snooped in Kingsley’s office, did he?” Ron says.
“Maybe the Minister should be more careful about safeguarding his things,” Thicknesse says. “When I was Minister–”
“You know, the records don’t reflect that,” Harry says. He’s starting to lose temper now.
“What do you mean?” Thicknesse says, faltering.
“The records don’t reflect that you were ever Minister. It wasn’t legitimate. You were nothing more than Voldemort’s puppet there,” Harry says.
There’s a tiny pop in the distance, but Thicknesse doesn’t notice. “It will be legitimate now,” he growls. “When everyone sees that all of Potter’s comrades are turning on each other, attacking each other in public, their faith in you, in the Ministry, will weaken. And then–”
“And then what? A new government, with you and your Death Eater pals?” Ron says.
“The Death Eaters were only ever a means to an end. Although they were far more sympathetic, so I’ll bear that in mind when I’m Minister,” Thicknesse says.
“So. Just to be clear,” Harry says. “You infiltrated the Death Eaters. Planned out all these imposter attacks. All to get some sort of political power at the Ministry? All to be the next Minister for Magic?”
“I knew you wouldn’t suspect me,” Thicknesse says. “I knew you’d be blind in your prejudice against the Death Eaters.”
“Prejudice?” Harry repeats, incredulous.
“I knew you wouldn’t know,” Thicknesse says, “that I was behind it all.”
And then several things happen seem to happen all at once:
The door to the break room, squeaking, slowly opens.
Thicknesse turns his chest to look at it.
Harry and Ron grab their wands, jump to their feet, and, in unision, say, “Stupefy!”
Thicknesse, caught unaware by two Stunning spells to the chest, falls to the ground.
And then Hermione and Ginny step in through the open door.
“Is that–Pius Thicknesse?” Hermione says incredulously.
“He was behind all of it,” Ron says. “Him and his son. All of it.”
“Everything?” Ginny asks weakly.
“Everything,” Harry confirms, stepping towards her. “The attacks, the Death Eater meeting… all of it.”
“Why?” Hermione whispers.
“He wanted to be Minister again. Pissed off that no one hired him. Merlin knows why he thought it’d work,” Ron says, shaking his head.
Ginny surveys Thicknesse, lying Stunned on the ground, and Ron, the tips of his ears red with anger, before finally fixing her gaze on Harry. “I can’t believe,” she says, “that we missed all the action.”
“It was so clever of you, Ron, using the Deluminator to get us here,” Hermione says.
Ron looks pleased.
“I’m going to send a Patronus to Kingsley and Robards,” Harry says. “Tell them we’ve cracked the case.”
Ginny looks at him, radiant as she smiles. “And then what?”
“And then,” Harry says, leaning down to kiss her, “we go home.”
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